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You Scream for UC Ice Cream

October 22, 2012

People around here know UC Merced is cool, but now, it’s also creamy, chocolaty and delicious – at least when you serve it on a stick.

You see, UC Merced is now depicted in gelato.

And you can taste it on campus.

As part of the Onward California mobile tour, each of the University of California’s 10 campuses has had a flavor of gelato-on-a-stick named after it, and UC Merced’s is Cognitive Chocolate, chosen because science professors here helped IBM develop experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.

“UC’s ties and value to California run so deep that matching campus research, themes and notables with flavors became quite the puzzle,” said Jason Simon, director of Marketing and Communications Services for UCOP.

But the gelato maker, Naia Gelato, based in Contra Costa County, helped by suggesting best-selling flavors and offering many other ideas.

“A lot of Naia employees have deep UC ties, so they were inspired to find the right connections. We’ve been pleased that at each and every stop people, people are amazed by how great the gelato is,” Simon said.

Everyone who visits the mobile tour’s UC Merced campus stop – from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 25 at the top of Scholars lane, near the turnabout – will get to sample the tastes of this and any other campus because they will get free gelato bars, courtesy of Naia. The tour is also scheduled to make an appearance at Merced’s Market on Main event that night. The tour’s stop coincides with the beginning of the campus’s Founders Day events, as well.

The other flavors and their campuses are:

  • Vitamin (K)iwi, named for vitamin K, found in high concentrations in kiwi and discovered by researchers at UC Berkeley
  • Super Strawberry, named for UC San Francisco, where researchers found that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is associated with a 50 percent reduction in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer
  • Vanill-Lick, named for UC Santa Cruz’s renowned Lick Observatory, where many astronomical discoveries, including several moons of Jupiter and extra-solar planets, have been made
  • Energizer Coffee, named for UC Santa Barbara Professor Daniel Morse, who led development of a biologically inspired nanostructured battery that promises high power, longevity and low cost
  • The Limelight, named for UCLA’s famed film school. UCLA alumni have 107 Academy Award wins and nominations.
  • HTTP Pistachio, named for UC Irvine alum Roy Fielding, co-founder of Apache HTTP Serve Project and architect of the HTTP/1.1 protocol used worldwide for Internet access
  • Citrus Grove (tangelo and lemon), named for UC Riverside’s roots as a Citrus Experiment Station that has developed more than 40 new citrus varieties
  • Being Green (matcha green tea), named for UC San Diego’s being named the Sierra Club magazine’s greenest school in California and the third greenest in the country
  • Honey Bee, named for UC Davis’s honey-bee-research facility, the largest and most comprehensive state-supported apiculture facility in North America, and the only one in California

The mobile tour – which is being undertaken in a brightly painted ice cream truck – doesn’t just offer ice cream, though. There are also other activities, such as a photo booth where people can have their pictures taken with their own homemade signs showing their support for the UC system.

So far, Simon said, turnout has been exceptional.

“We’ve had a lot of vocal support not just for UC but in the idea that the university is out connecting directly with Californians and sharing its story,” he said. “People are concerned about the state budget cuts over the past four years and the impact on the university’s future. They are eager to help and add the voice of support.”

The Onward California campaign is using digital media, as well, to tell the story of the UC system, with web pages explaining how the UC affects people’s lives every day, from medical research and technology breakthroughs to state policy, law and  entertainment.

“More than 20,000 people have come through the experience in the first eight stops and there have been a significant number of photos and comments shared via social media,” Simon said. “It’s really just inspiring to see the ways in which people express their sincere support from the university in so many ways. We had a woman whose dog had been saved by UC Davis, families with multiple generations of UC ties, and tons of activity on social media including some posts by luminaries with UC ties.”

He said each stop has a unique feel, and he expects that to continue at UC Merced and out in the local community.

“Each of the campus stops thus far has amped up the enthusiasm for UC even more,” Simon said, “giving the university community a chance to express its pride.”