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You’ve seen (and worn) the Cornell Store’s T-shirts and hoodies; for the holidays, we offer a sampling of its more unusual swag

By Beth Saulnier

In 1895, a group of students who were unhappy with the limited selection and high prices of Ithaca’s places of purveyance opened a store in the basement of Morrill Hall—initially selling from a counter made of wood planks laid across a pair of barrels.

Jump ahead a century and a quarter, and the Cornell Store is a bustling retail operation offering upwards of 25,000 products. A self-funded enterprise run by the University, it supports Cornell programs through its sales.

In addition to its flagship location at the heart of campus (in a semi-underground building that opened in 1970), it boasts outlets on the Ithaca Commons, in the Statler Hotel, and at Weill Cornell Medicine—plus a thriving online trade.

The interior of the Cornell Store
The Cornell Store in 2013, after a major renovation. Café Jennie can be seen at the top. (Lindsay France / Cornell University)

Not only a center of commerce on campus, the store is a go-to destination for alumni returning for Homecoming and Reunion—the place to snag a dizzying variety of Cornell swag (for themselves, their families, and even their pets) so they can display their Big Red pride worldwide.

For the holidays, Cornellians rounded up a selection of some of the store’s more unusual offerings.

They’re items that you may never have imagined would be Cornell themed ... but which you just might need to wrap up and put a bow on this festive season.

Cheddar cheese

Cornell cheddar cheese with grapes, apples, and bread

Sold in a two-pound wheel or half-pound wedge, Big Red Cheddar is made with milk from the University’s dairy farm and aged for six months at the Cornell Dairy. Also available: the milder A.D. White Cheddar, aged for three months. A portion of the proceeds from both support CALS’ food science program.

Squishy pillow

A Cornell squishy bear

These soft and snuggly animal pillows are all the rage these days—with adults as well as kids—and now Cornellians have their own.

Filled with a memory foam-like stuffing, it’s designed as a friendly, ovoid Big Red bear sporting a “C” on its chest.

Of course, stuffed Touchdowns are available in numerous other designs—including a Weill Cornell Medicine version wearing surgical scrubs.

Maple syrup

Bottles of Cornell maple syrup
Big Red's own sweet line of maple syrup. (Provided)

Did you know that Cornell has its own research program dedicated to this sweet elixir? The store sells maple syrup—sourced from nearby Arnot Forest, one of the University’s research and education sites—in containers of various sizes. Part of the proceeds support maple research and the forest’s sustainable management.

‘T-shirt’ blanket

A blanket made of Cornell T shirts

Can’t decide whether you want your swag emblazoned with the Cornell “C,” the University seal, or Touchdown the bear?

Have them all with this quilt-like blanket made of cotton T-shirt material. Comprising twelve squares, it measures 62 x 80 inches.

The store also sells myriad other blankets, in such designs as a giant University seal and a photo of the clock tower and Uris Library, as well as numerous incarnations of the bear and the Cornell “C.”

Bluetooth speaker

A Cornell bluetooth speaker

This portable gizmo measures just 3.7 x 2.6 x 1.3 inches.

Boasting a built-in subwoofer and wrist strap, it has a connection range of 33 feet and up to 5 hours of playtime per charge.

It’s blinged out with a “C” on the front and “Cornell” on the back.

Corduroy laptop sleeve

A navy blue corduroy laptop sleeve

It’s not just for pants anymore!

This padded sleeve, for laptops up to 15 inches, is offered in both blue and reddish brown; it bears the Cornell seal and zips shut.

The store also sells a maroon tote made of corduroy, with the Cornell name in swoopy script on the side.

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Cornell tartan swag

Male and female models in Cornell tartan pajamas

Cornell is the rare American university to have its own official tartan, registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority.

It was created by Jessie Fair Bloom ’09, then a senior majoring in fiber science and apparel design, and unveiled at the annual Cornell Design League Fashion Show—to the tune of the “Alma Mater” played on bagpipes.

In addition to pjs (available for men, women, and youth), the store sells the tartan on shorts, a necktie, a Pendleton wool throw blanket, a baseball cap, and even a fleece-lined hoodie.

Chocolate bar

Cornell-branded Finger Lakes chocolates

In a partnership with family-owned Finger Lakes Chocolates, the store stocks Cornell-branded bars in a wide variety of milk, white, and dark flavors—including unusual ones like maple, raspberry crunch, trail mix, toasted coconut, strawberry shortcake, and even “badass bacon.”

The store also carries the company’s truffle and caramel assortments, and the sales of a milk chocolate bar benefit the local United Way.

Clock tower clock—with pumpkin!

A wooden clock depicting the Cornell clock tower with a pumpkin on top

Made of walnut and cherry and designed by a local artist (retired Cornell researcher Bruce Calnek DVM ’55, MS ’56), the clock commemorates the infamous Halloween prank of 1997—when a pumpkin mysteriously appeared atop the McGraw Tower spire. (The store also sells a version of the clock sans pumpkin.)

Hawaiian shirt

A man wearing a red Hawaiian shirt

In the mood to rock your inner Magnum P.I.? The store has shirts by Tommy Bahama, featuring a white design of tropical leaves on a multi-hued red background, with a small “Cornell” and “C.” They’re available in sizes from small to 2XL.

Another tropical Tommy option: a white shirt with a red-and-green floral design running across the front on a diagonal.

Shearling slippers

Four pairs of Cornell shearling slippers

Yes, you can even show your Big Red pride while keeping your tootsies warm. The Cornell seal is featured prominently on shearling-lined leather slippers for men and women—including slip-ons and moccasins, some with indoor-outdoor treads.

Needlepointed accessories

Needlepointed Cornell coaster, a bottle opener, and a can koozie

Touchdown and the Cornell “C” appear in hand-stitched needlepoint on a variety of items, some with leather trim. They include a belt, cufflinks, a key fob, coasters, a golf club cover, a bottle opener, a baseball cap, a credit card wallet, a valet tray, and a can koozie.

Hockey stick dog toy

A dog toy shaped like a Cornell hockey stick

Is your pooch ready to play for the Big Red?

Start their training with this stick-shaped toy, which features a double squeaker and nontoxic stuffing.

Especially ideal for the Lynah Faithful, it’s one of numerous dog toys and accessories the store carries—from collars and leashes to bandanas, bows, and even a wee cheerleader costume.

All images provided, unless otherwise indicated.

Published December 9, 2022

What’s your favorite thing you’ve bought at the Cornell Store?

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