Beyond the Barn: Scooping Your Favorite Flavor
Creating that exact scene – over and over – is the goal for Sassy Cow Creamery in Columbus, Wisconsin.
For three years, Juli Cooper has worked as an ice cream manager at the farmstead creamery. All of the milk for the premium ice cream comes from Baerwolf Dairies, LLC. The dairies are owned and operated by James and Jenny Baerwolf and Rob and Jenny Baerwolf.
Sassy Cow offered about 32 flavors of ice cream when Cooper first started fulltime at the creamery. Today, Cooper estimates she creates about 65 flavors throughout the year. The creamery includes an onsite store, where visitors can order scoops of their favorite flavors right where they’re made. In addition, quarts of ice cream are distributed through retail grocery stores in southern and eastern Wisconsin.
According to Cooper, a big chunk of the total sales comes from shipping three-gallon tubs to be sold at various retail stores, including campgrounds and other seasonal tourist destinations. Last year, about 3,600 three-gallon tubs were sold for this purpose.
Two ice cream managers make all of the ice cream. On average, it takes about 72 hours to finish a batch of the frozen treat. Cooper explained that designing the perfect flavors for its customers is a balance of art and science.
“I want to make sure it’s appealing as well as something different,” Cooper said.
For example, a few years ago, the creamery created Green Tea and Pear Ginger ice cream flavors. While they were unique, they weren’t overly popular, so the team decided to discontinue those products. In contrast, Sassy Way, which features milk chocolate ice cream, a caramel swirl, and chocolate flakes, is quickly becoming a crowd favorite.
Cooper said she stocks about 30 to 40 ice cream ingredients, and each flavor usually includes one to four ingredients. She tries to develop new flavors that people will enjoy without having to add a bunch of new ingredients to the inventory. Adding many ingredients increases the customer’s final cost.
Flavor popularity changes with the calendar and the creamery offers 13 seasonal flavors throughout the year. Cooper said Sassy Cow introduces Apple Pie and Pumpkin Praline in the fall, both of which are extremely popular at that time. However, “no one buys anything pumpkin after Thanksgiving.” Vanilla sales skyrocket in the early summer as strawberries ripen and everyone wants to enjoy a fresh fruit sundae.
But overall, Cooper said two flavors are the clear frontrunners throughout the entire year – Vanilla and Salted Caramel.
When asked about her favorite flavor, Cooper laughed and said she likes to keep it simple.
“I will forever like vanilla because it’s easiest to make,” she said.
Although her job is stressful at times as she works to please customers, Cooper said she has really enjoyed the challenge of creating new flavors and crafting award-winning ice cream. She said the best part is the opportunity to put smiles on guests’ faces, especially young children.
“Every gathering needs a highlight and dessert is one of those things that makes people smile as they sit around the table,” she said. “You’re making someone happy.”
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