EAGLE, Idaho — Several customers in Eagle who ordered pizzas Oct. 6 were stunned when they opened their doors to see a dairy cow staring at them.
“Really, I’m dumbfounded,” Michael Marzocco said after opening his door to find his pizzas being delivered by Josie, a Jersey cow, and Meridian dairyman Clint Jackson.
The reaction by his wife, Courtney, was one of astonishment mixed with awe.
“I want to keep her,” was the first thing she said. “She’s so pretty. You don’t realize how beautiful they are until you are so close like this.”
As Josie, Jackson and an entourage of Dairy West employees walked down the sidewalk, pizza deliverymen in tow, the scene attracted curious neighbors who filed out of their homes to pet the heifer or snap photos.
“Only in Idaho,” said Rich Christensen, who just moved here from California and who was one of several neighbors who received free extra pizzas handed out by Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill deliverymen. “I feel like I’m in Idaho now.”
The event, in its third year, is a fun way for Idaho’s dairy industry to help connect urban consumers with where their dairy comes from, said Cindy Miller, a spokeswoman for Dairy West, formerly known as United Dairymen of Idaho.
“Not everybody can come out to a dairy farm so this is one way we can bring the farm a little bit closer to them,” she said. “For them to see an actual dairy farmer who cares about the kind of milk he produces is pretty important.”
Miller said Dairy West chose Smoky Mountain because the restaurant serves only Idaho cheese at its nine locations in Idaho and Utah and it chose a cow as a way to embed the moment in people’s minds.
“It’s very shocking when people see a cow walking down their street with a farmer delivering their pizza,” she said. “It shouldn’t be something they will forget.”
At each stop, Josie attracted a crowd of excited and somewhat bewildered people.
“Why is there a cow here?” one puzzled kid asked.
The answer, provided by a Dairy West employee: “Someone ordered a pizza with extra cheese.”
Jackson has helped make the pizza deliveries for three years and chose and trained Josie specifically for the event.
“They couldn’t keep me away,” he said. “It’s a fun way for us to get out and connect with some people and let them know how much we appreciate them supporting the dairy industry.”
Jackson said he also uses the occasion to remind people that when they buy Idaho dairy products, they support an industry that has a large impact on the state’s economy.
Dairy is Idaho’s top farm commodity in terms of cash receipts and is responsible for 39,000 jobs directly and indirectly, according to a University of Idaho study.
“When they order something as common as a pizza, that’s supporting the dairy industry here in Idaho and we appreciate it,” Jackson said.