Brigham Young University and milk goes together like, well, milk and cookies.
Which is why the university made its connection with the favorite treats official with the opening of Milk & Cookies, a bar serving its namesakes.
“Nothing is more iconic than BYU milk,” said Dean Wright, the director of dining services at BYU.
The idea for the bar began last year after the university celebrated its 21st anniversary of being declared the top “Stone Cold Sober” school in the nation by The Princeton Review. It’s a legacy the university — which has an honor code that bans the consumption of alcohol — has embraced.
And students sure love their milk. The university’s library holds an annual “Milktoberfest” to hand out chocolate milk in October, and the BYU Creamery sold 308,786 bottles of chocolate milk in 2016 alone. Wright said milk is the second-most popular drink sold from vending machines on campus, trailing behind water.
Plans for Milk & Cookies began with the recent remodel of the Cougareat and BYU Store when the university wanted something truly BYU to take up the space between the two entities. After deciding on providing custom milk, Wright said it was only natural to add cookies, too.
Milk & Cookies had a soft opening early this week in the space decorated with comfortable seating, homey touches and brick walls painted blue.
It includes a seasonal menu currently comprised of french vanilla float, raspberry creme, root beer float and pumpkin caramel spice-flavored milk available in 10 oz of either BYU Creamery whole milk or oat milk. Single cookies, custom cookies and the Cosmookie, the university’s spin on a deep-dish cookie topped with ice cream, are also available. Hot specialty drinks are on the horizon, and Wright said the bar is considering adding gluten-free cookie options.
Whole milk drinks are priced at $1.59 and oat milk costs $1.99.
The drinks come in reusable glass milk bottles paired with straws made from recycled materials.
The bar had been so popular since its opening that staff had to bring in additional seating.
“It has been real busy,” said Barbara Lettich, the general manager of retail dining at BYU.
Lettich said one woman came in to buy cookies for her office, and then came back for more because they were eaten so quickly she didn’t get one.
“It is a lot of satisfaction from our clients,” Lettich said.
But opening the bar was more complicated than pouring a glass of milk. BYU had to import a milk stirrer after spotting one at an international trade show. Other methods, Wright said, left the milk too frothy.
He said milk bars are popular in New Zealand, but BYU’s is unique.
“To my knowledge, we are the very first to combine flavored milk with cookies,” Wright said.
He was inspired by the idea of an old soda shop where couples would snuggle up over two straws stuck into a milkshake.
“What we really want to become is a destination,” he said.
A few days in, Milk & Cookies’ most popular flavor is its pumpkin caramel spice milk, followed by the raspberry creme flavor. Other flavors, like cereal-inspired milk, are expected on future menus.
Wright knows that BYU’s culture and love of milk can come off as quirky, but that it’s embracing it and seeing it as a unique badge of honor.
“It’s just like, I can have fun, I can be a kid,” he said.
Sydney Winn, a freshman, sat at the bar with a warm pumpkin chocolate chip cookie Friday afternoon. She came to Milk & Cookies for the first time after being invited by a friend.
“I thought it was interesting,” Winn said. “At first I was like, ‘Oh yeah, only at BYU do you have a bar for milk.’”
Within a few bites she already had plans to return and do homework in the space.
“This is super good,” she said.
Milk & Cookies is located within the Wilkinson Student Center. It is open from 10:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and from 10:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The bar is exploring opening for additional hours on Saturdays in the future.