The Udder Story
Judy Pigott was a retired college teacher looking for a hobby when she turned to ice cream. “I started playing around with flavours in 1999. It was my mom’s idea. She was trying to help me find a hobby, but that’s as far as it was ever going to go,” says Judy.
She started with a small ice cream maker purchased at Sears — which produced a maximum of one batch every 12 hours. At that rate, Judy says it took her about six months just to perfect the vanilla flavour.
She incorporated in 2000, and began operating from a commercial kitchen in her garage. “I was working seven days a week, sometimes from seven a.m. until two or three the next morning. That’s when I realized it wasn’t a hobby anymore,” she says.
In the meantime, her mom had also found a name for the business: The Udder Guys.
“When someone gives me a challenge, like my mother did, I tend not to let go until I’ve done it. And I’m so fussy, it had to be exactly right or I wasn’t going to do it,” she says.
For Judy, getting it “exactly right” meant using the highest-quality ingredients, and no fillers. From fresh ginger root to the coconut she husks, shreds and roasts herself, the Canada Food Inspection Agency went through each of her flavours and couldn’t find one unnatural ingredient.
When she outgrew the garage-kitchen, Judy and her husband Yves moved the operation to a larger facility. They also opened an ice cream parlour in Vancouver Island’s pastoral Cowichan Bay, where they could sell cones in addition to tubs of their ice cream. That was a decade ago.
Yves works year-round in the shop. They have one additional full-time employee, and hire local students for the bustling summer season. Their ice cream is also available in grocery stores and restaurants throughout British Columbia.
What makes the Udder Guy’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream so unique? “There are already enough cheap ice cream makers out there. When I read the ingredients, I see there’s wheat in that stuff. Why put wheat in ice cream? It’s filler, and because they put so much air in cheap ice cream they need it to fill the box. It makes their ice cream less expensive to make,” says Judy.
The Udder Guy’s were once almost acquired by a popular West Coast candy maker. “It looked like a good fit, but when we were close to striking a deal, they said my ice cream was expensive to make, and so they would put a little more air in it. I said ‘no way — you can pack up your briefcase and go.’ I couldn’t do it. I would not have been able to sell my name. If I’m not going to make a premium quality ice cream, which was our initial vision, then I’m simply not going to make ice cream at all. I won’t compromise,” says Judy.