Monday, April 22, 2013

Beating the Heat at Yum Yum

The warmer weather of spring brings out birds and flowers -- and a need for ice cream! At UNCG, for over 90 years, students, faculty, and staff have been able to beat the heat with a tasty cone from the Yum Yum ice cream shop.

The original site of Yum Yum, with construction
on the Jackson Library tower in the background, 1973
This campus tradition dates back to 1921, when Wisdom Brown (W. B.) Aydelette opened his now-famous ice cream shop on the corner of Spring Garden Street and Forest Avenue. It sat at the edge of the campus then known as the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG). Because the site what on the western edge of the Greensboro city limits at the time, the store was named West End Ice Cream Company.

At first, there were only a few flavors of homemade ice cream offered -- vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. But soon, the owner introduced a flavor he called "yum yum," an ice cream that is believed to have included soggy Grape Nuts cereal. According to popular tales, the flavor itself was never very popular, but the name was soon adopted for the store itself (although the formal "West End Ice Cream Company" remains).

Students at the Woman's College (as UNCG was known from 1932-1963) flocked to Yum Yum for its food as well as its atmosphere. In a 1994 interview with the Carolinian, alumnae Sharon Garrett remembered Yum Yum as a place to relax and escape from the restrictive residence hall lifestyle of the 1960s. "When we were there," she noted, "it represented some sort of freedom and just being together with your friends. It was like a breath of fresh air."

Yum Yum at its current location, 2002
In 1973, the building that housed Yum Yum was condemned and scheduled to be replaced with a new administration building (now the Mossman Building) for the expanding UNCG campus. Aydlette was able to acquire a building on the opposite corner across Spring Garden from his former site, and moved his operations across the street.

Aydelette passed away in 1984 at the age of 97, but his family continues his legacy today.

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