Victory is sweet for a tiny PEI company that licked the competition to take its place among the world's 10 best ice cream destinations.
"It's a very simple recipe, just cream and sugar and eggs," said James Power, ice cream production manager at the Cows facility in Charlottetown. "From there we add all the best ingredients we can find and we add lots of them."
The company began in 1983 with one store and a generations-old recipe for vanilla ice cream. It now has 11 outlets in Canada, most in Prince Edward Island, has branched into cheese-making and offers dozens of ice cream flavours. Much of the work is still done by hand, and the outfit produces about 230,000 litres of ice cream each year - a drop in the bucket compared to the big players.
Its use of "high-quality ingredients and a lusciously high butterfat content," along with "whimsically themed flavours" in fresh waffle cones, was cited by the U.S. travel company Tauck World Discovery, whose 250 directors compiled the top 10 list.
Tauck created the list to celebrate July as National Ice Cream Month, as declared 24 years ago by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan. But rather than focus only on the United States, the company asked staff worldwide to help put together a global list.
Cows was the only Canadian company chosen.
"Of all the ice creams I've had, this is right up there with the best," said customer Vernon Marshall, who was visiting the Cows outlet in Halifax from the Kitchener-Waterloo area southwest of Toronto.
Tauck's choices reflect the enthusiasm of its staff members, explained spokesman Tom Armstrong, who said in an e-mail that, while passion can be hard to quantify, "it was surprisingly easy to tell when a tour director had incredible enthusiasm for the ice cream they were nominating."
The selection process also considered the uniqueness of flavours, the history of the company, its location and third-party endorsements.
The 10 places Tauck chose, which were not ranked in order of preference, included two gelaterias in Italy and a 74-year-old glacier in Paris, as well as shops in Argentina, New Zealand and Costa Rica. The United States scored three spots on the list: one in Hawaii, one in Alaska and the Ben & Jerry's factory in Vermont.
Cows's inclusion was a surprise to company officials. Two years ago, their ice cream was named best in Canada by Reader's Digest, but they didn't know about this new award until called by a reporter seeking comment.
"You just don't think you're going to be No. 1," said vice-president Jackie McIntyre. "Of course, we knew it, but we didn't realize everyone else would realize it."