'55 EXCHANGE Clemson Ice Cream Shop
by LINDSEY ALBERTSON
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on October 6, 2006 | PRINT

A half gallon of peach ice cream brings a smile and a memory back to a Clemson alumnus.

The man's father was a patient at the Veteran Affairs Hospital and told his son that one of his best memories of Clemson is eating Clemson's peach ice cream. So, as a surprise for his dad, the man bought him some in hopes of giving his dad a taste of his past.

This is what the '55 Exchange is all about. It's about the people and making more of the Clemson experience.

"This is why the Clemson ice cream experience is second to no other. If you take any Clemson experience-football, bowman, the botanical gardens, anything and add Clemson ice cream, well that really makes great memories," Dr. Johnny McGregor, Department Chair of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the program manager for the '55 Exchange, said.

The slogan "Where tradition flavors the future" explains the new '55 Exchange ice cream shop well. The recipes are the same yet the "Tiger Slab," which is orange, gives the ice cream shop a link to the future in the ice cream business. Also, there are the classic flavors like black cherry, orange passion and peach, yet there are new flavors that students have developed.

The idea for the '55 exchange began in 2000. The Class of 1955, the last military class of Clemson, wanted to give a gift in honor of their "Golden (50th) Anniversary" in 2005. They came up with the idea to reestablish the Clemson ice cream experience and to have these operations lead completely by students.

The idea of this operation is meant to "enhance student learning through the creation of a centralized facility for the sale and marketing of Clemson ice creams, meat and produce." This statement is found in the mission statement of the '55 Exchange.

"We really make sure we stay all about Clemson and not just bring vendors in," McGregor said.

Students from all majors are able to work and learn here. Working at a place like the '55 Exchange is certainly helpful to students with majors such as business, accounting, management, food science, food service, food processing, packaging and graphic design, engineering, communications, education and marketing.

"I love working here because I was here when we first opened. I have pride, I guess, because I helped establish the '55 Exchange," Sophomore psychology major Jessica Kearse said.

The '55 exchange is willing to help students learn and work through real world situations by utilizing a business setting. A communication class is actually currently doing a project through the '55 Exchange on system management. Everything about the '55 exchange is meant to enhance Clemson.

The shop also sells Clemson fruit, produce and poultry, all from Clemson farms. The Clemson acapella groups and the Tiger band CDs are sold and played over the sound system.

Opening the '55 Exchange could not have been possible without the donation of 250,000 dollars for renovating and opening the shop from the 1955 class. They have also promised one million dollars in endowment.

The '55 Exchange was renovated from January to June of 2006 and opened on June 8, 2006. The grand opening will not occur until spring of 2007 when the class of 1955 will be invited back to Clemson.

If anyone is interested in helping the class of 1955 reach their promised goal of a million dollars in endowment, there are several ways to donate. One unique way is to develop an ice cream flavor in honor of someone; the money raised to develop the flavor goes straight to the endowment fund.

Three goals were set to make sure this business would be successful. First, this business should be a world class facility. For example, the employees train through the visitor center so that they know a little history about Clemson.

"The idea is that if President Barker had a guest he would be able to bring his guest here," McGregor said.

Secondly, this business should be self-sustaining. The operations should pay for itself. Income should keep up the facilities and pay the employees. Any extra profits go to support students, academic and union programs.

And third, this business should engage students through wages, valuable experience and entrepreneurship.

"The only complaint we've had so far is that we didn't do it soon enough," McGregor said.

Something else unique about the '55 Exchange is that students are already utilizing and learning from it. McGregor continuously commented on how wonderful the staff is and mentioned two Graduate students that are considered middle managers. Heather Johnson and Alex Clifford have worked with McGregor to get this business started. Not only are these students learning about real life business but they get to do fun things too, like make their own ice cream flavors.

"We can develop out own flavors, and if you like Peanut Butter, try PB Explosion. Hot Apple Pie and is also a flavor one of the employees developed," Johnson said.

Johnson tells one of the many stories she has come across since being a part of the '55 Exchange. An alumnus came in one day and began telling one of his first memories as a Clemson "cub" (what freshman military students were called). During a meal at Schilletter, the older boys yelled and told the "cubs" that the freezers were down so grab a trash can and run to the freezers to get all the free ice cream you can. However, the "cubs" soon realized it was all a hoax. Well, on this particular day the man told Johnson that he's finally here for his free ice cream and handed her a free ice cream certificate at the counter of the '55 Exchange sent to all Clemson Alumni.

Not only does this ice cream shop include the Alumni but it has also encouraged new ideas for that corner of the Hendrix center. Johnson attended a meeting with student government, the union and ClemsonLive and made it clear that ideas were flying. There is possible talk of a fun water fountain like something found at Carowinds for the corner beside the '55 Exchange.

No matter what happens in the future, people are enjoying the new '55 Exchange, so stop by sometime if you haven't.

"I like how you can sit outside and enjoy the Clemson acapella groups while enjoying Clemson ice cream," Anne Hudak, sophomore and food science major, said.

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