The biggest waste we could find at Tillamook Dairy was a baby loaf of aged sharp cheddar used as a wheel-stop on a small cart.
We put Tillamook on our itinerary as a great chance to find out about the dark underbelly of frozen dessert waste. It was a lucky coincidence that the dairy served up more than twenty flavors of thick and creamy ice cream.
Before getting down to unearthing the facts about milk-based trash, we stood in line for our chance at globs of sugary fat. I had Grandma’s Cake Batter and S’Mores. Margaret had Oregon Strawberry and Tillamook Mudslide on a waffle cone. They did a pretty good job scooping out our ice cream, and nothing fell on the floor; no waste there.
Armed with ice cream, we headed towards the self-guided tour of the factory.
I felt odd, clutching my double scoop ice cream cone, floating about with other people who have ice cream smeared about their faces. Most of the other cheesey devotees were three times our age, however we easily matched them when it came to chomping down ice cream.
We walked up the staircase to the viewing deck and below us, spread out like the vast expanse Mustafa showed to Simba, was the sterile metal-clad factory floor. Workers in hospital garb and hairnets (and beardnets for the kosher rabbi) repeated mechanical motions ushering golden colored blocks of cheese along its funereal path. Every once in a while the workers waved up at us. I licked my ice cream cone and gingerly waved it back. The top scoop was getting a little sloppy and I didn’t want to drop it.
It slowly dawned on us that the Tillamook factory we were viewing was really just a showcase factory. If we were going to pursue the waste story here, it had to get a lot more investigative.
But getting investigative takes a lot of energy. Ice cream called and so did the comfort of bucket seats in our car. I think the gift shop was calling to Margaret, but we made it out without dropping too much change because they didn’t have any postcards of cheese.
As we drove out of the parking lot, I rolled down the window so Margaret could snap an investigative photo of the Tillamook logo on the side of the factory.
Take that Woodward and Bernstein.