Union's Espress-OH scoops out football-inspired gelato
Published: Sunday, September 26, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
What is your favorite gelato flavor?
For $3.69 a scoop, students can take a bite out of the Buckeyes' opponent — the team's gelato flavor, that is.
Homemade gelato flavors for each opponent of the football season are available each Friday at Espress-OH in the Ohio Union.
Students are greeted by an ever-changing array of colorful choices, displayed in a glass case in the wrap-around counter at the entrance.
Prepared for the battle against Eastern Michigan University on Sept. 25, Espress-OH released its newest creation: "Eagle Apple Pie." The new flavor joined Marshall University's "We are Marshall" mint, University of Miami's "Hurricane" orange, Ohio University's "Paw Paw" fruit and Ohio State's very own "Buckeye Bonanza."
Members of Espress-OH came up with the idea two weeks before the Sept. 2 game against Marshall to provide students and visitors with yet another game day activity.
"I think it's pretty cool because there aren't really that many places to get gelato around here, and it's right on campus," said Kacey Watts, a recent logistics management graduate. "Plus, it's kind of exciting to come and see all of the game flavors on game day."
The staff solicited input from students and alumni at each university to create the flavors.
Eastern Michigan, like the others, eagerly participated in the creation of the school's frozen treat, said Espress-OH's assistant manager Alicia Palmer.
"It's made with granola, slices of chunked apple and a little bit of brown sugar sprinkled in just for that extra kick," said Megan Blask, student assistant for food services at the Union.
Creativity aside, the staff has noticed that game-day flavors are off-putting to loyal Buckeye fans, and students are occasionally hesitant to order some of the flavors.
"Everything tastes great as a sample, but I don't want to have a whole cup of any bizarre flavor," said Jeff Sferro, a marketing graduate.
A popular choice, "Buckeye Bonanza," out-sells all the others, especially when the Union is crowded with students, families and alumni on Saturday evenings, Palmer said.
The concoctions are not only fun to eat, they are fun to make as well, workers said.
"All of the mixes are made a little differently simply because of the ingredients used, but most of them begin the same way, with a milk base that I make. Then, the fun part is where I make all the flavors with the base. Once it tastes good, I run it through the machine and it takes care of the rest," Blask said in an e-mail.
Although a machine handles the blending, choosing ingredients requires a chef.
"It isn't difficult to make, but the key is to get the flavors the same every time," said Roger Garland, executive sous chef for the Union.
Original flavors are also relatively inexpensive to make, Garland said.
In addition to cutting university costs, gelato satisfies health-conscious customers.
The non-game day pineapple flavor is both fat-free and dairy-free, and all are a healthful alternative to other frozen treats.
Flavors are available to students daily, but Espress-OH hopes to attract fans on Saturdays.
"I think a lot of game day people will buy it. It's a great idea for people who are really into it all," said Douglas Brunner, a first-year in music education.
Game day fans or not, Palmer said the gelato will speak for itself.
"I don't know if everyone knows about it, but I feel after they come in and try it, they will definitely be back for more," Palmer said.
Espress-OH's two bar-style seating areas are located in the northwest corner of the Union. In addition to gelato, the menu offers espresso, frozen drinks, pastries and grab ‘n' go items available for purchase with meal swipes, cash and credit.
Operating hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and special game day hours are listed at ohiounion.osu.edu/visit_the_union/gameday.