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An interview with David Lindsey of the iconic, homemade ice cream shop

(Somerville Wire) – Tipping Cow, located in the heart of the Winter Hill neighborhood, offers Somerville (and other) residents refreshing treats on a hot summer day, serving all natural ice cream. They’re known for their creative flavors, such as Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding, and Birthday Cake. The shop is owned by founders David Lindsey and Gerly Adrien (now running for mayor of Everett), who aim to “reinvent the way that people think about ice cream” and bring something whimsical to people’s palettes. I asked David to share some thoughts, over email, on the imaginative business and how they’ve weathered the pandemic.

What made you decide to open Tipping Cow, and what was the inspiration behind the ice cream parlor? 

Tipping Cow was founded in 2013, and we bought Tipping Cow three years ago and decided to keep the name. Interestingly enough, we were looking for restaurant spaces to start a new restaurant. Perhaps something with Creole and New Orleans-style dishes. Gerly and I are both passionate about food, and she loves ice cream, so when the opportunity came to buy it, we did. While the name Tipping Cow was fantastic, many people had no idea who we were, so we worked hard to rebrand and create new flavors that people would love. We are inspired by our cultures, families, and the incredible array of ingredients available seasonally. Tipping Cow believes the simple idea that food is an outlet for creativity. So we decided to channel our creativity and energy into exploring unique ice cream flavors. Let’s bring fun and whimsy into the world of gourmet. We want every individual to enjoy ice cream without any limitations. In the beginning, we started as a 100% peanut-, tree nut-, and sesame-free ice cream manufacturer and will always ensure that EVERYTHING remains that way infinitely. At Tipping Cow Ice Cream, we make Gourmet Ice Cream without the EGO. In our hearts, we wanted to make ice cream because ice cream makes people happy. We were giving pieces of happiness and love that can be shared with others or a wonderful treat for yourself.

What are people’s favorite flavors?

People generally have multiple favorite flavors. They have their favorite everyday flavors, seasonal and special flavors. Right now, we would say Triple Chocolate, Oreo Mint, Key Lime Pie, and Vegan Cookies & Cream.

What have the challenges of the pandemic been like for you?  Did you have to shut down or pivot in any particular ways this past year? 

Some of the challenges we have faced during the pandemic are :

  • Continuing to make quality products while the price of commodities rose and were scarce.
    • We make all of our products from scratch for two reasons. It tastes better, and two, we can control what comes into the facility since we are the only 100% peanut-, tree nut-, and sesame-free ice cream purveyor in all of New England.
    • As prices rose or became scarce, we made a lot of adjustments but never took any shortcuts.
  • Working tirelessly to ensure that while we were living through a tumultuous time, you could count on Tipping Cow tasting and costing the same while the price of supplies rose or was scarce.
    • Sugar, dairy, cups, spoons, and many other products rose to prices that were unimaginable before the pandemic. Yet, we never wavered and did not let us stop working through our systems.
    • There were times when we did not know if there would be cups and certain types of ingredients for months, but we used ingenuity and prayers to get through.
  • Having to adjust to keep people safe while the demand for product rose
    • Since we took over the business, we have made over a hundred new flavors, been featured in local, regional, and national publications. So as more people came into knowing our story and about our products. We had to ensure people were kept safe by implementing protocols that some people think are too limiting. For instance, we used to open six days a week and opened back slowly after a temporary mandated closure. We have been adding days as we move along and hope to move to be open full time again soon despite the restrictions being lifted.

What does it mean to you to be a Black-owned shop, and have you taken a stance against racial inequality at Tipping Cow? 

This question is interesting for many reasons, but I would ask, what does it mean to you that we are a Black-owned shop?  In the beginning, it told us that we would have to endure some people being surprised, some being belligerent, some not wanting to pay us for goods, and some not wanting to partake in anything we had to offer. Then it shifted to people not knowing we were Black-owned but loving the ice cream, to now people know, and they love us either for being Black-owned and regardless of who the owners are because the product is quality. All the while, we have treated everyone who steps through our doors with care and respect.

Being a Black-owned shop in New England means a lot just in itself. We are grateful that we have support from everyone. The difference between us and other businesses is we don’t have to create plans to fight against inequality; our fight is in existing and providing care and love; we fight by being, giving back, and teaching others how to build and grow. We continuously work to show our culture and having positive interactions that speak to the importance of our history and recipes. Tipping Cow being a flourishing business in a challenging sector for any businesses, let alone Black-owned businesses, provides hope for others as we matriculate together to dismantle inequality.

Your co-owner Gerly Adrien is running for mayor of Everett. What made her decide to campaign, what issues are important to her, and how does her role as a small business owner inform her political work?  

Due to us being a safe place for thousands of people, we do not discuss any political matters, ideologies, or candidates. Ice cream is a medium to have worthwhile discussions on all things globally, but we elect to serve as a beacon to bring people together and be happy despite what they do or do not believe.

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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.

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