by Michael Vyskocil, photography by Nikola Tzenov
Take the idea of a snowball and turn it upside down.” That’s how Mike Reiner of The Cow in Westminster describes his approach to creating the sorbets — what people popularly call Italian ice—that customers can’t pass up.
“We have 63 flavors all the time,” he said of his creations, “and they’re homemade, using local products.” Flavors include cookies and cream, egg custard, frozen hot chocolate, mango, pumpkin and strawberry lemonade.
If frozen custard is more to your liking, The Cow offers up the creaminess of chocolate, vanilla and twist flavors dancing on your tongue. On the occasions when you want a gelati, a combination of Italian ice and custard, or a concrete (frozen custard blended with up to three toppings), The Cow has you covered.
Reiner’s devotion to producing extraordinary Italian ice goes back about 22 years to The Cow’s home pasture in Reisterstown. Originally named Dairy Fresh, Reisterstown locals affectionately started referring to his business as The Cow after Reiner installed a large fiberglass cow to attract customers’ attention. “The town named our business,” he said.
Before opening The Cow in Westminster, Reiner and his wife, Cassandra, were the owner-operators of snowball stands in the Westminster area. Longtime residents may remember the stands that operated in the former outdoor Kodak Fotomat huts in the area.
His Westminster cow mascot is appropriately named Snowflake, a tribute to the famous Snowflakes Snowball Stand that Reiner managed in the town.
Over the years, Reiner has adapted The Cow’s offerings to include sugar-free products, such as yogurt and gelati. But The Cow hasn’t strayed far from the herd regarding sweet staples such as floats, sundaes and old-fashioned milkshakes. For example, the popular Snowflake Shake blends custard with your favorite Italian ice flavor. Coffee lovers can indulge in the rich cappuccino or mochaccino shakes.
When asked what he believes contributes to The Cow’s appeal with customers of all ages, Reiner said that he does what he does for everyone. “Our products are priced with family-friendliness in mind,” he said. “We focus on quality. It’s a point of pride for us.”
Fun fact: Why does a cow represent The Cow? Owner Mike Reiner explained that the choice of a cow as the visual identity for his business wasn’t accidental. “As a child, I used to go to Cloverland Dairy. You’d walk across the road, and you could pet the cows. Then, after washing your hands, you’d get your soft-serve cone, and as a kid, I thought that was pretty awesome,” he said. “My idea of a great day as a child is now a childhood memory that lives on in our business.”
176 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster • 410-751-6269