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Penn State Fun Facts You Might Not Have Known

Have you ever walked by a tour group led by Lion Ambassadors telling prospective students that Bill Clinton is the only person to ever combine two flavors at the Creamery?

If quirky quips like that piqued your interest, you’re in luck. Penn State is riddled with a bunch of interesting facts dating all the way back to the 19th century.

Here are some fun facts to think about next time you wander around campus:

Penn State’s Original Mascot Was *Not* The Nittany Lion

That’s right, folks. Before the Nittany Lion was adopted as Penn State’s mascot in 1907, the original mascot was once Old Coaly, a real mule who helped build the original Old Main. Old Coaly carried limestone to what is now Old Main Lawn. Today, his remains can be found on display in the HUB.

Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry’s) Took An Ice Cream-Making Class At Penn State

Before launching what is now known as Ben & Jerry’s, the dynamic duo took an ice cream-making class at Penn State’s Creamery in 1977. Greenfield and Cohen opened their first ice cream store in Vermont, and the brand quickly took off thereafter. Even with its national following, it still doesn’t beat the Penn State Creamery’s classic ice cream.

The Original Old Main Was Mostly Built By Students

What eventually became Penn State was originally founded in 1855 as an agriculture school. As a result, students were required to complete a minimum of three hours of manual labor every day. Most students completed their requirements by putting the hours into the construction of Old Main.

Carnegie Building Is Taller Than Schwab Building Because Of A Friendly Rivalry

Andrew Carnegie and Charles Schwab were both tycoons in the steel industry and great friends, but that didn’t stop them from a bit of friendly competition. Both gave Penn State money for buildings on campus, but each of them wanted to have a bigger one. As a result, Schwab Auditorium is slightly larger in square footage, but Carnegie is slightly taller.

The Nickname ‘Happy Valley’ Was Established During The Great Depression

It’s easy to not think anything of the name “Happy Valley” when describing Penn State, but it actually has a deeper meaning. The nickname was given to the area during the Great Depression because the State College area did not suffer as intense of a financial impact as the rest of the country because of the presence of Penn State.

The Music Video For ‘The One’ By The Backstreet Boys Was Filmed At The Bryce Jordan Center

It didn’t take long for the Bryce Jordan Center to get its claim to fame. Four years after opening in 1996, the Backstreet Boys played a concert in the arena and used footage from the concert for the music video for their hit, “The One.”

Atherton Hall Isn’t Named After Former President George Atherton

Many of you know the name George Atherton, the former president of Penn State. Some think his name is associated with Atherton Hall, the home of the Schreyer Honors College. However, the building is actually named after his wife, Frances Washburn Atherton.

The Penn State Blue Band Was Influential In Playing ‘Seven Nation Army’ At Sporting Events

Almost everyone across the globe can recognize “Seven Nation Army” when they hear it, and it arguable wouldn’t be as known as it is today without Penn State. The song was first used in October 2003 by fans of Club Brugge, a Belgian soccer club. After being used at a few more sporting events, the Penn State Blue Band played the song during the annual Blue-White game, and it was a hit with students. It didn’t take long for publishing companies to see the reaction from Penn State students and sell the sheet music to bands across the country.

The Original Penn State Alma Mater Had Two More Verses

Fred Lewis Pattee, the namesake of Penn State’s library, was a professor of American literature at Penn State and the writer of the Alma Mater. After former Pennsylvania Governor James Beaver declared the Alma Mater to be “the official song of Penn State,” President George Atherton decided to take out the final two verses below:

Soon we know a guiding hand
Will disperse our little band,
Yet we’ll ever loyal stand
State to thee, State to thee.

Then Rah! Rah! for dear old State,
For our love can ne’er abate!
Ring the song with joy elate
Loud and long, loud and long.

The song quickly gained popularity within the university after this change, and it’s now known as the song we all know and love to sing together in Beaver Stadium.

Thanks to Penn State’s storied history, there are surely countless fun facts we couldn’t cram into this post. What’s your favorite lesser-known tidbit? Tell us in the comments below!

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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