Anticipation is making me wait. While standing in a long line-up stretching down the sidewalk in front of the iconic MacKay’s Ice Cream in historical downtown Cochrane, beads of sweat form as the sun beats down, heightening my eagerness to taste something cold. I lick my lips thinking about tasting the creamy, frozen dessert that has become internationally renowned over the past 70 years.
Just around the time I start to have doubts of ever getting into the store, the time that I am going to scream for ice cream, a smiling server appears carrying a tray of baby ice cream cones and distributes them among the customers waiting to get in. The sample is cold, and wet…a small treat that leaves us begging for more.
Another server from the store filters down the line handing out umbrellas. A family and I share an umbrella to shade us from the hot sun, and I soon discover the family is from Calgary. The trek to MacKay’s has become a Sunday tradition for their family, like so many other Calgary and area families.
MacKay’s is steeped in tradition. In 1948 James and Christina MacKay started creating ice cream and 70 years later Mark and Meghan Tayfel continue to make the delectable ice cream in a separate building located in Cochrane. The couple use over 300 recipes to create their creamy concoctions.
Ten minutes later we are in the store, and now the biggest decisions of the day must be made. What kind of ice cream am I going to get, and how many scoops? Do I want my old reliable – Cherry Custard or Chocolate Fudge Chunk, or do I want to be adventurous and try something exotic like Maple Bacon, Haskap Berry, or Kulfi (an East Indian recipe containing saffron and cardamom -the store’s most popular take home frozen dessert)? With 50 flavours to select from, plus half a dozen delectable sorbets, if you name the flavor…chances are MacKay’s will have it.
I am greeted by a grinning server, poised with a scoop in her hand eager to take my order. I choose Mango. It is cold, fresh and creamy. Yum!
What is MacKay’s secret ingredient? Cream. While most ice cream contains 10% butterfat, MacKay’s ice cream contains a whopping 18%. People obviously love the ice cream, but what they discover is the unique family experience, which eventually becomes a tradition, keeping people coming back for more.