WSU Creamery

We provide teaching and research opportunities to the university community and to the dairy industry, exceptional work experience to student employees and financial support to students and university operations. This will be accomplished by constantly providing safe dairy products of exceptional quality, with outstanding customer service.

We provide teaching and research opportunities to the Washington State University community and to the dairy industry, exceptional work experience to student employees and financial support to students and university operations. This will be accomplished by constantly providing safe dairy products of exceptional quality, with outstanding customer service.

| A University Creamery

WSU Creamery is one of a handful of university creameries in the country. The creamery provides hands-on experience to the 60 student employees who work in production in the creamery, at the university cheese shop, and in marketing the cheese. Alumni of WSU seek out their alma mater’s cheeses with gusto, and nothing says college football season like a wedge of cheese made by a fellow student!

Photo credit to WSU Creamery

| Variety is the Spice

WSU Creamery is famous for Cougar Gold, their special “cheese in a can.” Cougar Gold is a sharp white cheddar with sweeter and nuttier notes than regular cheddar. Cougar Gold makes up about 80% of the creamery’s cheese production. They also make Cheddar, Smoky Cheddar, Viking (a jack-style cheese) and Viking with spices added (Dill Garlic, Sweet Basil, Hot Pepper), a reduced-fat version of Viking with jalapenos and cayenne peppers called Crimson Fire. The creamery also produces a couple of seasonal flavors as well: Cracked Pepper and Chive in the fall and Red Pepper Garlic in the spring.

Photo credit to WSU Creamery

| Inventor and Mascot

Cheese production at WSU Creamery started in the 1940s with the development of Cougar Gold in a can. The cheese was created by Norman Shirley Golding (pictured here testing the pressure of Cougar Gold cans of various sizes), lead researcher at what was then Washington State College, or WSC. The cheese’s name honors both Golding and Butch, the university’s cougar mascot. At the time, cheese production only happened in the creamery during breaks, because the creamery was focused on producing milk for the university’s dining halls. It wasn’t until 1975 when the creamery started making cheese full-time.

Photo credit to WSU Creamery

| Student Dairy Milk

When it first started making cheese on a regular basis in 1975, WSU Creamery bought milk from a distributor. Today the creamery gets most of its milk from WSU Knott Dairy, a teaching dairy farm operated by the WSU Animal Science Department. There is also a student group (CUDS – Cooperative University Dairy Students) that milks about 30 cows and manages their own herd. WSU Creamery uses nearly all of the milk that WSU produces, and they also source some milk from the nearby University of Idaho Dairy.

These pictures show just a few of the students helping produce the milk that goes into WSU Creamery’s cheese – as well as the university’s Dairy Club!

Photo credit to WSU Creamery

| Savory and Sweet

Cheese and fluid milk aren’t the only two products that come from WSU Creamery. There’s also ice cream! Although ice cream isn’t cheese, it is another “value-added product” that helps farmers get more value out of the milk they produce. The ice cream produced by WSU Creamery is only available locally at the creamery’s on-campus shop and on the menu at a few local restaurants in Pullman. We’re certainly glad there are future generations of ice-cream makers in the works, because cheese and ice cream are both delicious!

Photo credit to WSU Creamery

| From Student to Leader

John Haugen is the Creamery Manager at WSU Creamery. (He’s also currently the president of our Board of Directors; what an over-achiever!) Pictured here (left) with the other two most recent creamery managers, Marc Bates (center; 1973-2000) and Russ Salvadalena (right; 2000-2015), John has been in his current role since 2015. But he actually started in 1990, working as a student employee. John says his then-girlfriend (now wife!), who was already a creamery employee, encouraged him to apply, “for some reason they hired me too!” According to John, “I enjoyed it, so when a full-time position opened, I returned in 1995 and have been here since in the role of plant engineer, then assistant manager, and finally manager.”

Photo credit to WSU Creamery

| Get it Where You Can

If you want to get your hands on some of WSU Creamery’s cheeses or ice cream, the most authentic way is to visit Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Pullman. Ferdinand’s is on the university campus, and it is the only place where WSU Creamery’s ice cream can be found for sale. The shop is run by student employees, and it is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also buy cheese directly from the university online at; the cheese can be shipped anywhere in the US, as well as to APO and FPO (military and embassy) addresses. Cougar Gold is also sold by local retailers in the Pullman area, as well as in limited quantities by retailers throughout Washington and the Northwest.

Photo credit to WSU Creamery

| Learning on the Job

One of the best things about WSU Creamery and all of the campus operations that support it is the hands-on learning experience students receive from taking part in the cheese (and ice cream) production process. Although the creamery has 16 full-time staff who are not students, Creamery Manager John Haugen says, “having student employees do as much of the front-line work as possible is a key part of what we are doing. […] In fact, the students who get work experience at the creamery are really more important than the cheese and ice cream; those are biproducts of the student employees getting value added to their education.” In addition to hands-on training student employees receive, the creamery also works with the university’s Food Science Department and with the cheese industry to facilitate teaching and research to benefit the community, the region, and the industry at large.

Photo credits to WSU Creamery

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