Peach Explosion: NC State Dining’s Special Small Batch Of Howling Cow Ice Cream Made Just For All Carolinas

Peach ice cream on a sugar honey cone in a person's hand

Photo Credit: Got To Be NC

If you had the privilege of finding yourself at NC State’s All Carolinas Dinner on September 7, you likely found yourself relaxing on a haybale and enjoying some delicious peach ice cream. This creamy, summertime treat was a limited-time Howling Cow flavor, Peach Explosion, developed specifically for the All Carolinas Dinner. Due to the limited quantity of Peach Explosion, there is little to be done for those who missed the event, aside from dreaming of summertime peaches and hoping that next year the flavor makes a return. Students who attended the event, however, had the special opportunity to enjoy a rare Howling Cow flavor and can consider themselves among the lucky few who tasted Peach Explosion. 

The All Carolinas Dinner returned to NC State’s Fountain Dining Hall this year to serve up a fresh and locally sourced menu for all to enjoy. For a number of years, the All Carolinas Dinner has highlighted delicious North Carolina-grown food through collaboration with local growers and farmers, and this year was no exception. Among a whole menu of tempting local treats was Peach Explosion ice cream, made at NC State’s very own Howling Cow and featured as dessert for the fifth year in a row. The ice cream was served in sugar honey cones, also unique to the event, and met with an overwhelmingly positive response by all who got the opportunity to enjoy it. 

To bring Peach Explosion ice cream to the event, Dining Hall Director Keith Smith sourced peaches from Sandhills Research Station during the peak season. Sandhills Research Station is home to much of the research done on NC Peach growth and harvesting methods, and they also are home to the original strain of North Carolina Peaches. “In July, when the peach harvest comes in, they let us come down and we pick up about 200 pounds,” which was then taken back to Fountain Dining Hall and cooked down into a thick, sweet slurry. Smith then took it to the Howling Cow dairy facility where they make the Peach Explosion ice cream for the All Carolina’s dinner. 

This is the fifth year that Smith has led this collaboration between Sandhills Research Station and NC State, and he says that it began with NC State Professor Mike Parker, who manages the extension of NC State and canned fruit. While looking for partners for the All Carolinas Dinner to demonstrate the relationship that NC State has with the food system of North Carolina, Professor Parker helped to develop the relationship between the university and Sandhills, which eventually led to Peach Explosion.

This type of collaboration among local farmers and NC State’s dining team consistently makes the All Carolinas dinner and other events throughout the year such a success. 

More photos from the All Carolinas Dinner >>