Faces: Rick Linhardt

Thursday, December 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:28 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Working in an ice cream store has obvious benefits. For Rick Linhardt, however, they stretch further than free ice cream.

Linhardt, manager of Buck’s Ice Cream Place at MU since 1993, said the job has given him invaluable experiences.

“I didn’t plan on getting this job, but my predecessor was retiring,” he said. “I don’t mind, though. I get to meet people from all over the world who have worked here, and this job forced me to overcome my shyness.”

One thing Linhardt doesn’t shy away from is playing pranks on his employees. His favorite thing to do is to pretend there are customers waiting outside and watch the staff’s frantic reactions. He said they generally take it with good humor.

“Kids make less at Buck’s than they would at other places, so I try to make life a little more enjoyable for them,” Linhardt said. “In fact, once they’re on to it, they start playing jokes back on me.”

Linhardt performs much more than pranks, though. He also oversees the research at MU’s dairy plant and teaches students about food science. He has shipped orders to Missouri congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C., given technical advice to ice cream processors in Tajikistan and run food consumer panels in Uzbekistan and Puerto Rico.

Despite all the interesting things about Linhardt’s job, his reason for loving it is simple.

“Ice cream is a happy food, so I get to meet a lot of happy people,” he said.

For the record, Linhardt forgoes Buck’s popular Tiger Stripe flavor in favor of his own favorite, rocky road.

“It’s simple,” he said. “You can get the chocolate, the nuts and the marshmallows all in one scoop.”

— Daniel Mullen

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