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Artistic experimentation

The Barking Cow ice cream shop explores unique flavors

According to local legend, a “barking cow” saved Gaston, thus inspiring the ice cream shops original name. (Photo by Hannah Bolds)

According to local legend, a “barking cow” saved Gaston, thus inspiring the ice cream shops original name. (Photo by Hannah Bolds)

By Becca Eis | Echo

Sick of soft serve from the DC? Want to avoid seeing everyone you know and their brother at Ivanhoe’s? A tucked-away ice cream shop located in Gaston, Indiana boasts small town pride and unique flavor options at an affordable price.

The Barking Cow opened in July 2015 and has been attracting local families and Taylor students ever since. From his experience owning another business, owner Cary Malchow knew the do’s and don’ts of starting a new business. Malchow built The Barking Cow from scratch, much like the ice cream he makes there.

The peculiar name of the shop comes from a local legend. Malchow dug into the town’s archives to find a name that resonated with citizens. He discovered the story of a calf that lost its mother and grew up around dogs on a farm. One morning, the farmer woke up to a strange sound—halfway between a moo and a bark. He looked out the window to find one of the gas oil wells on fire. Some would say “the barking cow” saved Gaston.

Soon after acquiring the building, Malchow renovated the vacant space and added a semi-private room that is used for birthday parties and other large groups, such as Taylor pick-a-dates. The decorations are community-oriented: One exposed brick wall is decorated with local memorabilia, including canvas prints of Wes-Del High School’s sports teams produced by the print shop next door. A tabletop is covered with a mod-podge picture collage of life in Delaware County.

Malchow had always liked the building and saw the opportunity to create a destination within the town of Gaston and help draw revenue to surrounding businesses. However, his biggest motivator of all was simply the enjoyment of making ice cream. Malchow also uses a trailer with a portable freezer to transport his frozen treats to Wes-Del basketball games and other events in the area.

Since Malchow earns his living from his other business, Outfitter, a screen-printing shop in Muncie, he views The Barking Cow as an entrepreneurial and experimental pursuit.

He and his employees view all customers as taste-testers: they sample new flavors and offer feedback. “For us, we can sit here and say ‘You know what? Let’s try that jalapeno pepper; let’s make a batch; let’s put it out there . . .’ and that gives us an opportunity to be a lot more adventurous on coming up with some different flavors,” Malchow said.

Malchow, who graduated from Ball State University in 1991 with a degree in art education, sees ice cream as an artistic medium. When he couldn’t find a job as a teacher, Machow pursued another ambition of becoming a business owner by starting Outfitter and later, The Barking Cow.

Two of his 30 signature flavors, Cinnamon Toast and Killer Key Lime Pie, have won Best Dessert in “100 Men that Cook” and “Taste of Muncie,” respectively. Since he has the equipment to make the ice cream himself, Malchow takes suggestions on new flavors from customers when he runs out of ideas. Recently, Malchow added “Koontz’s Tennessee Orange” to his menu, a Dreamsicle and marshmallow flavor named after Jeff Koontz, a University of Tennessee football fan, local business owner and Wes-Del graduate.

In the future, Malchow hopes to sell edible cookie dough by the scoop and possibly place a cooler full of ice cream cups in the DC at Taylor. 

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