Story Behind Mizzou's Iconic Tasty Ice Cream Treat is Pretty Sweet

Tiger Stripe-ICE CREAM
Robert Marshall is one of the creators of Mizzou's Tiger Stripe ice cream, a treasured treat created in 1989. The science behind the ice cream makes it so rare. ( Mike Byers )

Since the late 1800s, dairy has been a foundation of the University of Missouri, but it wasn’t until the 1980s one of Mizzou’s most iconic ice creams came to life.

“I created a black and gold ice cream, and so my name got around because people like it,” said Robert T. Marshall, professor emeritus, University of Missouri.

Marshall is one of the creators of not just any ice cream, but the beloved Buck’s Tiger Stripe ice cream.

“It's the black and gold, the colors of the Tigers,” he said.

The iconic tasty treat didn’t happen by chance, but by science.  

“The way it gets to be both black and gold is to have some gold color, primarily put in there by the 1.4% egg yolk solids that we put in it,” explained Marshall. “Now that's uncommon for most ice cream.”

It’s not just the egg yolk making the flavors so rare, but the placement of the chocolate stripes.

“if you're going to have a gold ice cream, and you're going to make it black, you've got to have a thick running syrup that when it gets cold will stay there, and you can enjoy it,” he said.

It’s the thick ribbon, or the stripe, that was the most difficult attribute to achieve.

“Finding the cocoa that would make the black chocolate, and then the mixture that would keep it from running zinto the ice cream, and then as soon as it hits the freezer gel up and stay where we put it,” he said.

Unveiled in 1989, it was fueled by an endowment from the Arubuckles, and a flavor that took three years to create

“They appointed me in 1986 to get this program started, and so I got the program going, but it took us until ‘89 to put it out where we were proud of it.”

Today, the face behind the treasured treat is proud of what he created both inside and outside of the home of Mizzou’s Food Science.

“I think I'm prouder of how with the manufacturing by our various students, it stays to say they know how to take the mix that comes made for it and put it all together with those stripes in correctly.”

30 years later, the University is unveiling another esteemed ice cream flavor, this time dedicated to the entire state.

“Our food science students took a challenge from our chancellor Alex Cartwright,  to come up with the flavor of ice cream that sort of captured the hearts of Missouri,” said Chris Daubert, Dean of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources.

The challenge kicked off at the start of the school year and was accepted by students like Ali Martin.

“The Chancellor and the Dean came to us and said they wanted to use paw paw, which is now the state fruit, into ice cream.

She says the paw paw is a fruit that boasts powerful flavors.

“A paw paw fruit is basically a mango and banana combined, but it's a little bit bitter,” she said. “So they thought bringing the walnuts in, which is Missouri's  state nut, would help sweeten it up a little bit.”

She says sweetening up the fruit was a challenge, and took a few variations.

“We had to make sure that when we added the pop off that the ice cream wouldn't get super bitter and wouldn’t be unappealing to customers,” she said.

Discovering the science behind the flavors turned into an ice cream with a unique taste.

“The candied black walnuts just gives it a little bit of a crunch and a little bit of pizzazz to it, but the combination of all those flavors together is quite good,” said Daubert.

The class project could live on for generations.

“I think it's cool to say that we've used Missouri’s state fruit and the state nut to create something that no one has really done before,” said Martin.

From new flavors to the exquisite ice creams that are the bedrock of Buck’s, the traditions at Mizzou are thriving.

“Whether they play on the grid or shoot mighty threes down the pipe, they always smile when you feed them some fine black and gold Tiger stripe,” said Marshall, quoting a poem he wrote when tiger stripe was first introduced.

Students today are scooping up a slice of history that keeps ice cream lovers clambering for more.