I don't care what you say, Penn State's Berkey Creamery makes the best ice cream in the land. It is a staple in my parents house. When they come to visit, there's always a bag loaded with dry ice and several half gallons of various flavors.
Our favorites are:
Keeny Beany Chocolate (a chocolate ice cream with chocolate shavings in it)
Bittersweet Mint (virulent green mint ice cream with chocolate shavings in it)
Peanut Butter Cup (chocolate ice cream with peanut butter in it)
WPSU Coffee Break (coffee ice cream with chocolate shavings in it)
I'm fortunate, because as a townie I get to visit State College a few times a year. When I'm home, I get my fix from the Creamery. My wife and kids are on board now too. We arrive, unpack, visit...then head for campus for a cone. It doesn't matter if it's summer or sub-zero February, we're going.
I know that's something I'd miss, if I didn't get home. Many of you don't go back to school often. Here's the question...What is the one thing you must have when you go back? Maybe it's a drink or a baked good or a sandwich? Tell us what you crave, when you head back to the Alma Mater.
Aaron Yorke: I'm more of a grilled stickies guy myself. The Creamery is fantastic, though.
GF3: Not being an OSU grad, I don't have many traditions in Columbus of my own. One family tradition on gameday is to eat at a little gyros joint on High Street across from Ohio Union. When my folks were at OSU, all their grad school drinking haunts existed in what are now hipster bars or Baby Gap near said gyros shack. It's nothing special, but we ate at the joint ages ago and always go back, because there's rarely a line and the food is great. My father always waxes jovial with some old inside jokes, declaring that the pizza he ordered at always-slow City Pizza in 1976 is probably "ready right about now." Oh, and we always get a Frosty. I know, it's corporate ice cream...or whatever it is. Once upon a time as an OSU law student, the old man interned at Wendy's HQ when it was just some regional burger chain. In a way, it's like revisiting his early days when the Frosty was still a novelty.
I hope when I go to State College next they aren't out of Cup-o-Piss ice cream for OSU fans.
Stew: Mabe's Pizza, Toppling Goliath beer, and the Whippy Dip. Decorah is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in NE Iowa. But it is the home to one of the best breweries in the world, in Toppling Goliath; and a pizza joint that has been a fixture for about 50 years. The tavern style pizza is simply amazing. And finishing it off with a walk to the Whippy Dip for a malt is about a perfect day.
C4B: Mother Bear's Pizza. Best pizza in Bloomington, conveniently located to campus, and much more filling than the other place I long to visit every time I go back: Baked of Bloomington, the best cookies you'll ever have, bar none.
Brian: I make my way back to Ann Arbor a couple of times a year, and just the general campus walk is probably what I enjoy the most. But if you're talking about a specific eatery, while Zingerman's Deli is definitely the most hyped/publicized option - and is not necessarily a bad option - for me, no campus visit would be complete without a trip to Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger. Ironically, I don't think I ever ate there as a student, but try not to miss it now.
AlNamiasIV: I'm not an Iowa grad, but when I do go to Iowa City, I make sure to visit the Hamburg, where I generally get an omelette and a pie shake. When I go to my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh--I was a freshman the last time PSU played Pitt--I make sure to go to the O and get cheese fries.