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By Maureen McMullen , Published March 30 2014

It's My Job: Store carries on 'Tastee' tradition

MOORHEAD – Though low temperatures, wind and lingering snow hardly offer convincing evidence that spring has, in fact, sprung in Moorhead, Duane Elefson isn’t letting weather thwart his family’s Tastee Freez traditions.

Elefson and his wife, Fern, bought the Moorhead Tastee Freez, where their daughters had been working, in 1991.

Since then, Elefson has spent every summer running the business as well as making and serving frozen treats to fight the summer heat.

When did you open for the season?

Well, usually it’s March 1, but because of the cold, I didn’t open until March 8.

Does Tastee Freez get a lot of business when there’s still snow on the ground in March like this year?

No; it doesn’t get busy unless it’s a nice day with snow on the ground. We’ve had a few of them so far this March, but cold and windy is not good business weather.

What would you say is your most popular item?

Our most popular item is probably Freezees; it’s like a (Dairy Queen) Blizzard, but we call them Freezees.

What sets Tastee Freez apart from other chains like Dairy Queen?

Dairy Queen has a very distinct taste. Ours, likewise, has a very distinct taste; it’s the same formula that they’ve been making since 1950. So, my customers say it’s richer, it’s creamier, and it’s more like real ice cream.

How long has this Tastee Freez been open?

This location has been open since 1963. At one time, in North Dakota alone, there were 23 Tastee Freezes, so just to give you an idea how, with mom-and-pop places, mom and pop moved on or didn’t want to run it anymore, the kids moved off and did something else, and one by one, they changed. You know, it’s hard to get product when you’re in Gackle or Edgeley or wherever; it’s hard to maintain a national brand like this.

What do you enjoy about owning this Tastee Freez?

I still like the business, I like selling something that’s unique and that people like and keeps them coming back. Customer loyalty is wonderful, but you have to give a good product, you have to be consistent, and I think that’s the key to any business. I just get to know my customers; we are very informal here. We talk with our customers, and I have gals and guys that work for me and customers will come up and they’ll know their name, and, you know, ‘I’ll have the usual.’ It’s just very home-town.

Can customers expect anything new this season?

I have some new flavors for Freezees. I’m always working on new stuff. I have a new cone dip, toasted coconut. So, I’m always bringing in new stuff. We have a lot of variety here; even though we’re small, I do offer a lot of different items. I also do, unlike a lot of other places, real fruit toppings. In other words, it’s not preserves or jelly. They’re real berries; real blueberries, real raspberries, real strawberries. If you come here, you’re going to get the real thing.

Reporters can reach Forum reporter

Maureen McMullen at (701) 235-7311