I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.
This short poem, The Purple Cow by Gelett Burgess, is the inspiration for the moniker of the Purple Cow Creamery, an ice cream shop found down the narrow cobble-stoned Bank Street in historic downtown Easton.
The ice cream parlor, which began in 1998, makes all of their own ice cream, sorbet and ice, available in 48 different flavors (24 flavors in the “off-season” from Labor Day to Memorial Day, which are rotated for freshness).
Much like its name, the Purple Cow Creamery is anything but ordinary. The interior brick walls are contrasted with soft purple and yellow pastels from the nearby Crayola Factory.
A purple cow mural graces one wall of the seating area, and a cut-out board in a spoof of Grant Wood’s American Gothic invites patrons to get a picture of themselves as, well, a purple cow.
The second-biggest surprise of visiting Purple Cow Creamery was how creamy and delicious their ice cream is; I opted for my personal favorite, chocolate-chip cookie dough, in one of their fresh-baked cones (just another personal touch they offer, they make all of their own cones).
The biggest surprise, however, was that the eponymous Purple Cow was there in person, taking pictures with patrons and just generally being ebullient.
Mariska Michener, the owner’s mother, loves to dress in the Purple Cow costume and spend time in the store.
She explained that back when they opened, it was difficult to get teenage employees to dress up in the costume and play the mascot. So Michener, who is retired, donned the get-up herself and strutted her stuff as the violet bovine.
So just how often is the Purple Cow there? “Whenever the mood strikes,” said Michener. “Or when there are events.”
And speaking of Purple Cow, that’s also the name of their signature ice cream flavor, which is black raspberry swirled with fudge and mixed with mini raspberry truffles.
“We only use the freshest ingredients,” said Michener. “We specialize in good ice cream.”
Purple Cow owner Lynn Flanagan works the counter herself, doling out scoops for her clientele, which is just about everyone; young and old, men and women, families and couples, or just the odd person wandering around downtown Easton.
“We get a lot from the Crayola museum,” said Flanagan. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to put an ice cream place next to a kid’s center.”
Purple Cow Creamery is a family-owned and operated endeavor; besides Flanagan’s mother being the purple cow, her daughter, Caitlyn Flanagan, also works the counter.
Michael Flanagan, the owner’s son, also known as Chef Michael, is a culinary student and makes the ice cream himself in the basement of the shop.
He explained the difference between their varieties: “A sorbet is made with natural fruit juice. It’s more like a puree… it’s a bit more fluffy,” he said. “The ice is made with artificial flavoring.”
According to Michael Flanagan, the most in-demand ice cream flavors are black raspberry (a flavor in itself, and also used to make Purple Cow) and, expectedly, vanilla.
But with so many options, how could anyone just choose vanilla? Lynn Flanagan explained that they’re always experimenting with new flavors. Their most recent idea: Cracker Jack.
“We could add another 24 flavors without thinking, but when we bring in a new one, we have to get rid of an old one,” she said.
Some other notable original flavors, besides Purple Cow, include:
• Jamaican Me Nuts (coffee ice cream with a fudge swirl, with cashews, walnuts and pecans)
• Death by Peanut Butter (peanut butter ice cream with a peanut butter swirl and, naturally, peanut butter cookie bits)
• Mexican Chocolate Diablo (a spicy concoction of chocolate ice cream, cinnamon, almonds and hot red pepper)
• And a whole bunch of others, all of which can be seen on their website, or tasted in-store.
“You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite flavor,” said Flanagan, although she didn’t mention what my favorite flavor says about me.
The Purple Cow Creamery is located at 15 S. Bank Street in Easton, just off the circle. Store hours are Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. They are closed Mondays.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, all 48 flavors are available, and the store is open until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They are a cash-only establishment.
Visit them on the web at www.thepurplecowcreamery.com, or stop by for a cone in person, and you may get lucky enough to meet the Purple Cow.