Jeff Beyer, Shelley Spang: Pride Dairy

"Both of us remember what it was like doing all of our business within a 50-mile radius ... Even going back and looking at it today, we could have never dreamed of it being this good, of it turning out this well."

Juneberry and milk chocolate; rhubarb strawberry chocolate and vanilla. People may not have heard of these flavors before but they soon find the sweet, crisp fruit and smooth creaminess of those classic flavors balance and complement each other perfectly. You might even say they are perfect matches.

Ironically, the same can be said about Jeff Beyer and Shelley Spang – the ice cream-loving duo who make these sweet treats. Together, they run Pride Dairy in Bottineau, North Dakota.

“Oh no, we hate each other,” Jeff says with a laugh. “We don’t even talk. We’re just doing this because it’s advertising.”

“Just like brother and sister,” Shelly adds with a smile.

Jeff and Shelly have lived in Bottineau their whole lives. Jeff owns the business while Shelly manages the store. Jeff admits Shelly is always in charge when he’s not around and jokes that she is probably in charge even when he is around. The constant joking between the two make it easy to tell they enjoy their work in the happy business of making ice cream.

But things weren’t always sprinkles and cookie crumbs for Pride Dairy.

The creamery was founded before Jeff and Shelly were even born. Back then, it only shipped butter and milk. Ten years later, it started making ice cream with the locally famous Dairy Dipper. However, in the early 2010s, business started sour for North Dakota’s last creamery and news soon spread of the business’ closure.

“We didn’t want to see that happen,” Jeff says. “I didn’t want to go into debt, but I couldn’t see it just closing … I guess I have to say it’s been a good decision.”

Jeff, who had been working at Pride Dairy since he was 16, bought the business on January 1, 2012. Since then, life has been, well, pretty sweet. USA Today named Pride Dairy the best ice cream in North Dakota. Soon after, it was asked to replicate the ice cream recipe Thomas Jefferson made for diplomats, down to the imported Madagascar vanilla beans. It’s now sold every season as “Thomas Jefferson Vintage Vanilla Ice Cream” at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

It’s safe to say a lot has changed at this small North Dakota creamery.

“Both of us remember what it was like doing all of our business within a 50-mile radius,” Jeff says. “Even going back and looking at it today, we could have never dreamed of it being this good, of it turning out this well,” Shelly added.

Pride Dairy is now sending its products around the world. Some are creations of the customers who love their ice cream the most: the locals. Stories like the Juneberry and milk chocolate cow pie on a stick that began as a joke for a local rancher are some of Shelly and Jay’s favorites.

The most important aspects of Pride Dairy have withstood the test of time. Their ice cream is still made the way it was a century ago and the store still runs with less than a dozen people.

Most of all, the duo that saved this vintage ice cream shop from melting away continues to bring smiles to their customers’ faces: Shelly, the cheery and flavorful strawberry rhubarb syrup (she even has red hair), and Jeff, the classic chocolate ice cream you can always depend on.

The perfect duo. 

For more stories, go to ND TravelMatters.

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