BOTTINEAU - He takes pride in his work and it shows. What else would you expect from the manager of a business called Pride Dairy? How about making people smile? Jeff Beyer does that too but he gets plenty of help from a real cool favorite locally made ice cream.
"We feel we probably have one of the best jobs in the world because when people come in they know they are coming in for an ice cream treat," explained Beyer. "When they come in 99.9 percent of them have a smile on their face. Our goal is to try and make that smile even brighter when they leave."
That's an approach any customer would love, especially when backed up by some of the finest tasting product to be found within the borders of North Dakota. Pride Dairy mixes in a little North Dakota flavor as well and those familiar with the taste just can't seem to get enough of it.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN •
Shelly Spang and Jeff Beyer hold two signature products of Pride Dairy in Bottineau, Juneberry and chokecherry syrup. Beyer began working at Pride Dairy at age 16 and now manages the co-op owned dairy.
Beyer is particularly proud of a Pride Dairy product that sounds anything but delicious a "cow pie." Yuk!
Don't rush to judgement here. Once Beyer reaches into the freezer at the Dairy Dipper and plops down a cow pie in front of a customer, the wrapper comes off quickly. After a brief examination to make absolutely certain the product is legitimate, a taste test follows and the customer invariably expresses pleasure. The cow pie is an exclusive for Pride Dairy and has a taste that is a far cry from its namesake.
"The cow pie is a creation we came up with almost as a joke. It's kind of unique for us. It is Juneberry ice cream on a stick and dipped in chocolate," explained Beyer. "When we were trying to come up with a name one of the individuals here said it looks like a cow pie and the name stuck."
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The flavor of North Dakota Juneberries mixed with locally made ice cream and chocolate proved to be an instant hit. In fact, said Beyer, Pride Dairy often struggles to keep up with demand. Cow pies have proven to be a big seller at the local swimming pool and at the Dairy Dipper.
"When customers come in here to the Dairy Dipper they always take a few cow pies home with them," laughed Beyer.
The Dairy Dipper is a sit-down ice cream store located within Pride Dairy. About a year ago Beyer and his staff resurrected the original Dairy Dipper that closed down in 1960. The 1950s look and quality ice cream products has made the Dairy Dipper a popular spot with locals and others passing through the Bottineau area that have heard about the quaint little store and frozen cow pies.
"It's been a blast for us," said Beyer. "I started a guest book on April 16, 2010, and by July 27 we had visitors from 35 states, three Canadian provinces and at least two other countries."
Pride Dairy began operation in 1930. Dairy products have always been the mainstay of the farmer- owned co-op, but even turkeys and chickens were butchered there during the early years. Today Pride Dairy remains a place for farmers to market their cream, some of which is made into butter.
"We're really proud of the butter we manufacture here," said Beyer. "We use the old-style vat pasteurization that is kind of unique. Others today use the high temperature, short-time system. We heat the cream slowly and hold it at 172 degrees and then cool it down. That process lends a unique flavor to the cream which, in turn, transcends to the butter. It's more of a cooked flavor that makes it stand out from everybody else's butter. The ice cream is the same thing. There's a noticeable flavor difference with Pride Dairy vanilla. It gives people a reason to buy our product."
Beyer knew the Dairy Dipper should reflect North Dakota, so he made certain Juneberry and chokecherry sundaes would be among the featured treats.
"Those two signature flavors are really big for us," said Beyer. "We purchase the berries locally, process them and incorporate it in our ice cream. Then we started bottling Juneberry syrup last November and chokecherry syrup this past March, both of them have been very, very well received."
Beyer has several photographs of Pride Dairy syrup in worldly settings. Some customers have been having fun showing off the North Dakota product while traveling the world.
"Those are our syrup bottles on the coast of Ireland," laughed Beyer, while pointing to a photograph. "Here's Pride Dairy syrup in front of the White House. This one is on a beach in Hawaii, this one at the Queen's castle in Denmark and one from Mexico. You can find Pride Dairy of Bottineau on Facebook too."
Beyer grew up in Bottineau and says he is glad he still calls Bottineau his home. Following a visit to an aunt in California when he was just 16 years old, Beyer walked into Pride Dairy to get some milk and was asked if he needed some work.
"I finished high school and college here and have been here ever since," explained Beyer. "Maybe a person could make more money elsewhere, but the lifestyle here is what we enjoy. You can't put a dollar value on it. I enjoy wildlife, hunting and fishing. You couldn't ask for a better place to live."
Today Beyer can be found at his desk at Pride Dairy or helping serve smiling customers in the Dairy Dipper. Their smiles get even broader when they enjoy a little flavor of North Dakota. That makes Beyer smile too.