Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Ice cream cool

COWS, Inc.Prince Edward Island conjures up images of white beaches, lobster boils – and thanks to 28 years of savvy marketing, an iconic cow serving up super premium ice cream. 

From one ice cream shop on the Cavendish boardwalk in 1983, Cows Ice Cream of Charlottetown has grown to nine locations selling 32 flavours, plus a popular line of merchandise, across Canada -- becoming a nationally-recognized brand in the process.

“Our original handmade vanilla was a family recipe belonging to the owner, Scott Linkletter,” explains Jackie McIntyre, CEO. “It was a huge hit.”

No wonder – at 16 per cent butterfat, all their treats boast quality ingredients, like imported Madagascar vanilla, Dutch cocoa and PEI strawberries. 

Today, their product line includes butter and cloth-bound cheddar, aged on the premises and selling off grocery store shelves in Atlantic Canada and Ontario. But their ice cream isn’t being sold in grocery stores. “We want to keep our ice cream special,” assures Jackie.

Their merchandising is special, too, now representing 60 per cent of gross sales. “In the early days, customers loved our uniforms featuring our cow image and wanted to buy them off the backs of our staff. The whole thing just took off,” says Jackie.

Their t-shirts and other products feature parodies of pop culture, but with a cool bovine twist: You Tube becomes Moo Tube, Hello Kitty becomes Hello Cowy. Instead of FacebookFarmbook.  The images are screen-printed on site and retired after three years, but some become more popular than others.

Cows had to make two print runs, for example, of the t-shirts made in honour of Live with Regis and Kelly when they taped four shows in Charlottetown last year. Co-host Kelly Ripa’s on-air mention of their most popular flavour, Wowie Cowie, showcased Cows to millions of viewers in more than 200 markets across Canada and the US.

Jackie says that ACOA has been a tremendous support to their company over the years.

“When we needed to buy something we couldn’t have financed ourselves, like costly infrastructure or a screen print machine, ACOA was there to help. They’ve been just terrific to work with.”

These days, Cows is working with bus tour operators to build on the success of their factory tours at “The Creamery,” their head office in Charlottetown. The new facility brought all its operations under one roof. “We opened our creamery to the public in 2010 and the response exceeded all our expectations,” says Jackie.

With potential new outlets and a greater online presence on the horizon, tourists who have fond memories of Cows can still graze on another taste of PEI.

View ACOA’s social media release on COWS, Inc.

Published June 14, 2011