A Tale of Two Cities—and Countless Scoops of Ice Cream!

Of all the committees I’ve served on in my career, the one tasked with helping the Penn State Berkey Creamery commemorate its 150th birthday has proven to be a pretty sweet gig.

Research On the Road’s two #Creamery 150 summer events began with a road-trip to Klavon’s in Pittsburgh, a beloved historic ice-cream parlor lovingly restored and reopened by Penn State alumnus Jacob Hanchar and family.


It was a well-attended and festive event. Longtime Creamery Manager Tom Palchak was on hand to give a talk about Creamery history and answer audience questions.

Tom Palchak addressing crowd
Tom Palchak addressing crowd

There was a terrific mix of attendees, with many Penn State alumni of all ages—including a few multi-generational Penn State families and a couple of former Creamery employees.

The crowd at Klavons
The crowd at Klavons
Tom Palchak with a Penn State alum who worked at the Creamery during her student days.
Tom Palchak with a Penn State alum who worked at the Creamery during her student days.
Multigenerational Penn State pride
Multigenerational Penn State pride

There even was a celebrity sighting: Former Nittany Lion and Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris stopped by to meet Tom and to eat some ice cream.

Tom Palchak and Franco Harris
Tom Palchak and Franco Harris
We were delighted to have Pittsburgh’s NPR station (90.5 WESA) there to tape for a segment on their Essential Pittsburgh program. Listen here! 
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette got in on the action with a story that ran in conjunction with National Ice Cream Day.
Finally, we had five Pittsburgh food bloggers there, with several popular blogs having promoted our event in advance.   
A good time was had by Penn Staters of all ages at Klavon’s in Pittsburgh!
The next stop on our summer Research on the Road agenda was the Lehigh Valley, home to one of the largest, and most vibrant and loyal alumni communities in the region—as well as home to the Penn State Lehigh Valley campus!  Collaborating with the alumni chapter as well as the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, we were pleased to be able to bring two Penn State speakers and a whole lot of Creamery ice cream to the area for two events.
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 On Friday, July 31st, Bob Roberts—Head of our Department of Food Science and director of the famous Ice Cream Short Course—was the keynote speaker at an alumni-only event called The Special Edition Blue & White Night, hosted by the Penn State Lehigh Valley Alumni Society.
Bob Roberts addressing audience
Bob Roberts addressing audience
This exclusive event for Penn State alumni introduced attendees to the Berkey Creamery’s new 150th Anniversary Flavor, Birthday Cake, which was a big hit all around! Coincidentally, about 150 people attended.
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The next day, Saturday, August 1st, was the Second Annual Penn State Lehigh Valley Day in Downtown Bethlehem. Participants were encouraged to shop in businesses up and down Main Street, with 5-10 percent of proceeds going to pediatric cancer research. Those with a passport would get perks at the different stores—discounts to samples to free giveaways.
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 Our contribution? A free scoop of Creamery Ice Cream from The Shoppe, the one year old “Creamery only” ice cream parlor and gift shop in the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, for every passport-holder.
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We also contributed a Creamery ambassador, Assistant Manager Jim Brown, who was on hand all day to meet and greet the public. Jim helped kick the day off with remarks to the crowd at the opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting. A special shout-out to Bruce Haines and his Hotel Bethlehem staff, especially Brynn Levine, and to chapter board member Chris Bogden, all of whom were  an integral part of the event’s success.
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Creamery Assistant Manager Jim Brown, center, with Penn State Lehigh Valley’s new Chancellor Tina Richardson and Hotel Bethlehem Managing Partner, Bruce Haines.
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What a festive atmosphere with sunny blue skies and an alumni band playing Penn State songs!

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Creamery 150 even made it onto the event’s official t-shirt!

Hotel Bethlehem's Brynn Levine shows the t-shirt designed for the event, including our Celebrating 150 mark!
Hotel Bethlehem’s Brynn Levine shows the t-shirt designed for the event, including our Celebrating 150 mark!

Students from Penn State Lehigh Valley staffed booths up and down the street to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

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Penn Staters were out showing their colors all day, and the Nittany Lion was everywhere!

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2015-08-01 23.07.43Bethlehem was definitely Blue & White this past weekend, and we’re already looking forward to their Third Annual Penn State Day!

That wraps up the ice-creamed themed programming this summer…but there’s more to come this fall when Research Unplugged scoops up a big serving of Creamery history and science, just in time for Homecoming Weekend. Stay tuned!

Season’s End

Sitting in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv (on points) and watching all the American tourists, it strikes me that they are probably looking at me as well, because I’ve been here for more than two hours already and will probably sit here for another three before I head to the airport.  Flights to the U.S. typically leave at 11:00 p.m. or midnight and I had to check out at noon.  But the reality is, I’m not wearing plaid or Bermuda shorts or a fanny pack logoed Hard Rock Café.  I look like a local in a skirt and blouse and so I look out of place.  Continue reading Season’s End

The Party’s Over

Today, students and staff placed 2,500 sandbags around the excavations at Tel Akko to protect them over the winter.  All the pottery is washed, although not all is catalogued and recorded.  The field season for Total Archaeology @ Tel Akko is over.  Well, at least in the field.  Some staff will remain next week to finish up paperwork and a few more the following week in Haifa to tie up loose ends and complete some of the computer work.

I did not have to place sandbags today, which is a good thing as it is hot and very dirty work.  Instead, I was editing some student blog posts and creating a video of some of the students.  While all admit that sometimes this is really hard work, most of them loved it, even if they wouldn’t do it again.

The Remains of Plants

Pottery, metal working, glass making and building all leave fairly large, tangible remains at an archaeological site. Sherds of ceramics, pieces of glass and slag, large stones, walls and floors all stand out when excavating.  However, the remains of crop cultivation and the gathering of plants are not so easily seen, as only charred seeds and plant material remain and they are small and dispersed in the soil.

Archaeobotanists search through soil samples to find seeds and other vegetal remains.  They use water to float the lighter material, including most seeds, to the top while the heavier portion sinks and is caught in a net.  The lighter portion gets searched for seeds and charcoal and the heavy portion contains pottery, slag, iron hammer scales and the occasional bead or tiny sample of red ochre or ancient glass.

Mongoose on the Loose

This has been a year of critters on the tel.  Students and staff have reported seeing green parrots, small raptors, black snakes and even a Palestinian Pit Viper, which was quickly dispatched.  The usual annoyances of ants, flies and mysterious biting insects are of course present.  As is the perpetual mole.  This year he, or she, has moved to another area of the dig, out of MM20, I think, but maybe he is just not showing himself.   Continue reading Mongoose on the Loose

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