Boy Howdy, That’s Good Ice Cream

It’s nice to get a good news story once in awhile, and what could be better than one involving indulging a minor vice resulting in good for the world. I once reported on Save The World Brewery, a beer company run by a former minister which puts its profits back into community charities. Well, if beer’s not your thing but a sweet tooth is, there’s Howdy Homemade Ice Cream.

Howdy is a Texas-based chain of ice cream shops staffed by people with intellectual or developmental difficulties. Seemingly a large portion of the workforce have Down Syndrome; others have Autism, and any number of similar afflictions. The company was started by Tom Landis, a Dallas-area businessman who was inspired by Gene Stallings, a celebrated football coach (he was running the 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide which went undefeated that year and were National Champions) who won acclaim as well for writing about his son John who had Down Syndrome. Stallings went on to be an advisor to President George W. Bush on Intellectual Disabilities, believing firmly that people like his son could do far more than most people would give them credit for.

Landis started the ice cream business with the idea of a “relentless pursuit to crreate jos for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the power of our smiles and amazing ice cream.” He feels such people are “marginalized because of society’s misunderstandings.” So he opened his shop and hired people most places wouldn’t consider. It was a hit, and now he’s got shops in Katy (a Houston suburb) and Asheville, NC with plans to open ones in Las Cruces, NM, Delaware and Syracuse, NY soon.

They offer occasional seasonal specials plus 18 regular flavors… “regular” being a bit inappropriate perhaps since things like Cold Brew, Dr. Pepper and Avocado aren’t everyday choices everywhere. Of course they also have Butter Pecan, Chocolate (“As all get out!”) and, yes, vanilla. They’re available for catering weddings complete with cakes (ice cream I presume) as well.

The chain was showcased recently on ABC News and has been featured by NBC’s Today Show and the Dallas Morning News among other media sites. They’ve taken the next step in their business as well, offering Howdy Ice Cream for sale in tubs at 100 HEB supermarkets in Texas. Each container has the photo of one of the workers gaining experience and dignity working for them.

Reviews are generally good. Yelp averages 4.5-stars out of 5; Trip Advisor 5 out of 5. Complaints, while infrequent suggest the portions are too small …which I guess is the mark of a good dessert!

I must admit that I’ve never seen their product in my local supermarket and haven’t given it a go. As well, their website is a little sparse on details such as where they source their ice cream (do they make the supermarket batch themselves or merely re-label and existing product, for instance) and number of people working for them, but that doesn’t leave too much of a bitter taste when we’re dealing with quality ice cream and jobs for people who need a little boost.

So, if you’re in the Lone Star State (or soon, elsewhere) and get a hankering for a cold treat on a hot day, why not say “Howdy” to a most unusual – and most admirable – ice cream and the happy faces that serve it up.

11 Replies to “Boy Howdy, That’s Good Ice Cream”

    1. for sure. I wish there were more details on the website (like for instance, are the managers also challenged ) but there’s no doubt a lot of these people are capable of doing much more than most expect if they have a chance and probably appreciate the job more than most.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally agree…they are capable of doing a lot of things and years ago they were never given a chance.
        I can only imagine how that makes them feel to work and contribute.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. one of the supermarkets here has one guy (who is apparently something like our age – their appearance is deceptively hard to gauge) who has downs syndrome, as a bagger. He does a fine job and seems happy to be there, which the majority of his co-workers aren’t. He was a minor celebrity here when he got his Covid vaccine and was able to return to work, he’d been out about a year and the local paper ran a story about him.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Stories like that Dave give me hope for us all…as the human race. There should be more stories like this out there.
        Jen if applying for a job right now…and one of the things that they do…other than their work is agree to volunteer one day out of a month. Last day it was the animal shelter and they all went down and helped…the company pays them…she really wants that job.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I hope she gets it! That’s admirable. The company where Cinnamon works is a large power corporation and they encouraged the employees to do that too, sometimes bussing them to a place like the local VA hospital to help out for an afternoon or something with pay. It’s a great policy, her company hasn’t done that much of late because of Covid but I hope they will go back to doing that sometime when health permits. She also did a day at a workshop for developmentally handicapped young people too, which she seemed to like doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It does give you hope that some companies actually care…. the cynic in me sometimes thinks it’s because the companies want to look good….BUT either way it still works! So I don’t care what the reasoning is…people get out.
        Yea with covid it’s hard right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I see what you’re saying, and sure most companies that do community work do make sure the press knows and if they’re on site helping out , that there’s a banner or two with their logo, but I think it’s a fair tradeoff… they could just use the money they ‘donate’ to such efforts on just bonuses for the Board or direct advertising instead.

        Liked by 1 person

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