Scoop of Syracuse: Alumna creates official SU ice cream, plans to sell Otto the Orange-inspired dessert item nationally
For Syracuse University sports fans, the icy chill of the upcoming winter season just got a little sweeter.
“If you had told me five years ago that I would be making ice cream, I would have laughed because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Eilish Mitchell, a 2012 SU alumna and creator of the new official ice cream flavor of Syracuse University Athletics.
After graduation, Mitchell started working at Perry’s Ice Cream, an ice cream manufacturer based in Akron, N.Y. That’s where she developed Otto’s Cupcake: a chocolate cupcake-flavored ice cream with orange frosting swirls and chocolate cupcake pieces mixed inside. The flavor is currently sold at the Carrier Dome and is expected to reach grocery stores this February. Locations serving Otto’s Cupcake can be found on the Perry’s Ice Cream website through their “flavor finder.”
After graduating with a major in chemistry and a minor in nutrition, Mitchell said she wanted to look at alternative things she could do with her education, aside from working in a lab. That and some friendly competition with her brother, Stephen Mitchell, led her to the quality assurance coordinator position at Perry’s.
“My sister and her achievements are the best examples of what this university can do for us,” said Stephen Mitchell, a senior music education major. “I will definitely be looking at the level of achievement that my sister has had and, as with all sibling rivalries, try to one-up her as much as possible in my field.
Orange pride runs deep into Mitchell’s family. In addition to her brother, her mother and grandparents are all alumni. Stephen Mitchell said he thinks professors and faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences will be excited because his sister is an example of how how majors within the college can translate into the real world.
While she was able to use her education to create an ice cream, though, Mitchell’s biggest struggle was incorporating the Orange spirit that her family embodies into a flavor. She faced a number of challenges before landing on the chocolate cupcake-themed dessert.
“How are we going to put together a cool, new ice cream flavor that people would want to try and relate that to Syracuse? That was one of the questions we asked early on,” Mitchell said. “There really isn’t orange ice cream and Perry’s didn’t want sherbet because either people like it or they don’t — there’s no in-between.”
So she and other developers started looking for a new approach.
Mitchell officially works in quality assurance, where she is responsible for food safety and quality, but her position also allows her to be involved in new product development. She said that she helps approve flavors and shadows members of the research team. This allows her to experiment with what other developers are producing.
After tasting a coworker’s chocolate cupcake prototype, Mitchell came up with the idea for an SU chocolate cupcake. The next challenge, she explained, was matching the cupcake’s frosting to the official Syracuse Orange color: Pantone 1655. She went through about 10 samples before finding a shade close enough for her creation.
“I had to eat a lot of frosting because we had to develop it with some of our supplies, since no one had it,” Mitchell said. “You have to take a whole spoonful, and that’s not what you want to start your day off with at 8 a.m.
Despite the excessive amount of frosting taste tests, Mitchell said she enjoys her job at Perry’s. She said that there are far worse things she could be doing other than sampling ice cream, after all.
And when her flavor reached the development stage, Mitchell was able to add an extra treat. She noticed that the stock number printed on each container was 1143 — only one away from including one of the most well-known numbers on campus: 44. She was able to convince the production team to change the number to 1144 after explaining the role that the digits 44 have played in SU’s sports legacy.
“It’s a little hidden Easter egg that I threw in for Syracuse fans,” Mitchell said. “It’s always cool going to the Dome and being able to eat the official ice cream of SU athletics. Hopefully it’s something they can relate to — they already know who Otto is, and hopefully anyone who tries it will enjoy it.”
Published on October 24, 2013 at 12:25 am
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