Thank goodness that Phil Keeney likes chocolate.
In general, the 93-year-old Penn State retiree is not the picky sort when it comes to ice cream — he even likes the coffee inspired stuff — but Keeney Beany, the Penn State Berkey Creamery blend of chocolate chips and vanilla bean that bares his name, lands smack dab in the middle of the cocoa camp.
“If somebody really liked chocolate I would recommend them trying Keeney Beany because it’s kind of over-the-top chocolate,” James Brown, assistant creamery manager, said.
Earlier this month, Sports Illustrated gave the flavor a pretty solid recommendation, too, putting it at the No. 19 spot on its list of America’s 25 best college town meals.
Writer Andy Staples praised the complexity that the vanilla bean brings to what would otherwise be a straightforward bowl of chocolate ice cream.
Keeney’s name became attached shortly after he retired in 1985, but the flavor itself goes back to his early days as a professor with Penn State’s food science program.
“The basic mix was developed back when I first got here. We kind of upgraded the product, added more milk,” Keeney said.
New and exciting innovations in the field of frozen treats aside, the intervening years have been kind to Keeney Beany’s namesake. The professor emeritus got to meet Ben Cohen — of Ben and Jerry’s fame— and learn the not so secret origin story behind chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Then there’s the Philip G. Keeney Food Science Department Head Excellence Fund, which bolstered by contributions from donors and Keeney Beany sales fosters new and initiatives within the program.
“I’ve been fortunate as much as anything,” Keeney said.