By LINDA MOSS
Responding to community backlash, the owners of a new Montclair ice cream shop on Thursday said that they never meant to offend anyone with their controversial logo, which depicts a sexy cow, and that they plan to put it “out to pasture,” replacing it with a revised version.
In a press release the business’s owners, Anthony Tortoriello and Jeff O’Neill, said that although they’ve received support from many customers – and served more than 1,000 patrons in their first week of operation – they don’t want to create conflict in or offend the town.
Dairy Air’s logo – which has a cartoon cow with blond braids, a beret and an exposed human-like derriere – created a backlash from those who felt it was a sexualized image that degraded women. The criticism started when Amy Tingle, owner of The Creative Caravan in Montclair, posted an open letter on Facebook blasting the logo’s design.
A debate ensued, with many agreeing with Tingle and others siding with Dairy Air, with people arguing that the logo was just mean to be funny and that some were taking political correctness too far by getting upset over it.
“Dairy Air was created with one goal in mind – to make delicious dairy desserts for our customers,” Tortoriello said in a statement. “To us, it’s all about the ice cream and serving it in a super unique, family-friendly store, with awesome customer service. We simply created a fun illustration to complement our fun name. In ‘hindsight,’ however, we realize that the illustration may have been offensive to some. In light of that, we are working now to tweak it.”
Tortoriello, a partner in the up-and-coming Dairy Air franchise, is the father of two teen-age daughters. His partner O’Neill is also a father of two, according to the press release. Both said that they have been engaging in a dialogue with people who both oppose and support the logo, and understand everyone’s perspectives.
“The positive response has actually been overwhelming,” O’Neill said in a statement. “And while we appreciate that, and all of our supporters, we want to do what’s best for our customers, our neighbors, and ultimately for our brand here in Montclair, and as we begin to expand regionally. Once we realized that sides were being taken, it was time to end the battle over the cattle.”
Tortoriello and O’Neill said that they never intended for their ice cream store or its brand identity to be controversial.
“We want the awesome taste of our ice cream to unify – not divide – our community,” Tortoriello said. “We stand by our product 100 percent, but we’re OK putting the cow out to pasture.”
Dairy Air and its branding team are working on a variation of the illustration and expect to unveil it soon, according to the press release.
Tortoriello pointed out that the logo the shop features on its exterior signage on Bloomfield Avenue has an ice cream sandwich. The cow logo is only on its interior, on items such as cups and furniture.
“As for our product, we think that utterly speaks for itself,” Tortoriello said.
Stories about the Dairy Air logo went viral, and were published in newspapers around the country and even overseas.
In a brief phone interview Wednesday Tortoriello said that his shop’s manager, Natalie DeRosa, had quit after being upset by the hoopla over the logo.