Last minute WSU gift ideas that support students

Three Waygu beef cows in a corral.
Wagyu beef cows are raised by WSU students and staff before they are processed and sold in meat boxes or by the whole animal.

Looking for a last minute holiday gift for the special Coug in your life?

Fear not, Washington State University students and staff produce enough potential holiday gifts to ensure any gift-giving gathering has a dash of Cougar pride.

There’s Cougar Gold Cheese—the most well‑known product of WSU that dates back to the 1930s—and a battery of other cheeses made at the WSU Creamery. There’s also candies, meats, honey and blended wines that’ll sustain your family and friends, even the ones who aren’t alumni.

These WSU‑made goods benefit students by giving them experience in their chosen field, or support their scholarship through sales.

The sale of WSU cheeses and meat enables student employees to have paying part‑time jobs, gaining valuable experience in their field or just the opportunity to learn more about the food they consume. Two scholarships for food science students are also funded through the sale of WSU Creamery products.

In order to get cans of Cougar Gold for the holidays, many customers place orders months in advance.

“I guess it’s a good challenge for the WSU Creamery to encounter, that we have such a popular product and not enough supply,” said John Haugen, manager of the WSU Creamery. “Since Cougar Gold is aged for a year before we sell it, all the cheese that was for sale in 2019 was made in 2018 and when we’re out, we’re out.”

And as in years past, the WSU Creamery is out of Cougar Gold for the year. Natural Cheddar, Dill Garlic, Sweet Basil, and Smoky Cheddar are also gone until 2020.

The good news is that several of the creamery’s cheeses are still available online and at Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe. And the decision this year to significantly increase cheese production for 2020 means Cougar Gold will likely be available later into the holiday season, Haugen said.

WSU Crimson Confections—a student run business that sells its sweets with the help of WSU Creamery—produced the first commercial Cougar chocolates with its foundation in 2016. Its flavors include cinnamon milk chocolate, peppermint and salted caramel. Sixteen‑count boxes are available online.

Rows of chocolates lined up during production.
WSU Crimson Confections—a student run business that sells its sweets with the help of WSU Creamery—produced the first commercial Cougar chocolates with its foundation in 2016. Its flavors include cinnamon milk chocolate, peppermint and salted caramel.

For those looking to pair their cheese or chocolate with wine, WSU’s Viticulture and Enology program has you covered.

“Our Blended Learning wines are made by students in collaboration with Washington growers and winemakers,” said Kaury Balcom, communications coordinator for the program. “Proceeds from the sales support hands‑on learning activities for V&E students.”

More information, including a full list of available wines, can be found on the department’s website. Orders can be placed by calling 509‑372‑7224 or by emailing

In addition to their research on pollinators, the Department of Entomology also sells honey year‑round, collected from its campus colonies. The department’s bees make close to two tons of honey each year, said Brandon Hopkins, assistant professor of entomology and manager of the WSU bee program. Student employees keep research colonies alive and get training funded through the sale of honey, which can be ordered online.

Shopping for a devout carnivore? WSU’s Department of Animal Science raises and sells Wagyu and Angus beef in a variety of cuts and quantities. Only two of the four breeds of Wagyu—literally translated as Japanese cow—are available for breeding outside of Japan. Their robust marbling makes them highly sought after among foodies.

Brent McCann, cattle operations manager, employs six to 10 undergraduates at a time to take care of the cows as they develop from newborns to grown adults. It takes approximately two years for the cows to grow to their ideal weight before they are sent to the WSU Meat Lab for processing, where students also assist in every stage of the process leading up to sale.

Cows standing in a field.
WSU students and staff raise Wagyu and Angus beef cows before they are processed and sold to customers.

“Many of our student workers are pre‑vet or are in animal science, but not everyone,” McCann said. “I’ve had everyone from English majors to engineers. Some people have never worked with livestock, but as long as they are enthusiastic and willing to learn we can teach them how to maintain the herd and give them valuable experience.”

More information on WSU Premium Beef is available on its website.

Next Story

Recent News

Student receives NASA graduate fellowship

Ian Wells, a mechanical and materials engineering graduate student, has won a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities fellowship.

Summer schedule for WSU Insider

Look for news highlights in the daily push email most days Monday through Thursday through late August, with Friday emails resuming around the start of the fall semester.