Q: How did you guys get into this business? Are you "living the dream?"
A: Well, we never set out to be entrepreneurs, and even when we starting the store, we had no plans to make our own ice cream. Here's the whole story...and most of it is true...The year is 2000, and after surviving Y2K (along with the rest of the world), Mike & Mona Exinger are in Boise, Idaho, seeking something “different.” Mona, a CPA, and Mike, working for a marketing research firm, are tired of the rat race, as the rats are clearly winning. Looking to do something with food, we checked out bakeries, delis, fresh food markets…searching for the “right fit.”
After a nine month search throughout the Northwest, on the last business day of the year we purchased Oscar’s Ice Cream and Candy in Seaside, Oregon. Renaming the establishment “Zinger’s Ice Cream Parlor and Sweets,” we sold Tillamook ice cream, homemade fudge, saltwater taffy, and cotton candy. Life is pretty good.
A month after our grand opening, a new ice cream shop opened in Seaside, just down the block from Zinger’s. A year later, another shop opened. In 2003, yet another ice cream shop sets up, with the word on the street that two more are set to open within a year.
Seeking to stand out from now crowded “selling someone else’s ice cream” market, we decided to make our own ice cream. At the same time, we make a commitment to use environmentally-friendly packaging – sugar-cane-pulp bowls, potato-starch spoons, and paper straws – no plastic, no Styrofoam. And the rest is history. Mostly.
While the base mix for our delicious homemade ice cream has changed over the years (from a 14% butterfat base to today’s ultra-rich 18% sweetened with organic cane sugar), the basics have remained the same since our “homemade” debut in 2004. We use the best ingredients are can find – real fruit and nuts, cocoa, coffee, etc. Lots of flavors and always 24 to choose (of an annual inventory of 40+). Pretty much everything in the shop is homemade. We also make our own waffle cones, hot fudge topping, and seasonally we make more than 20 varieties of fudge candy. And we now blab about it here and on Facebook.
Q: What do you mean by "homemade?" Do you really make it at home? And what's different about it versus the other guys?
A: First, no, we don't make it at home - we make it in our store in Seaside (where it feels like home, sometimes). It IS "just like" the ice cream you can make at home - fresh, creamy, and the process is physically similar (except we get to use a much bigger machine). See here for how we do it. The difference is partly the process and partly what goes in the ice cream (and what doesn't go in). Our is a "batch freezer" process that only makes five gallons at a time, allowing us a great deal of control over the quality of the ice cream. The other guys sell stuff made in a factory somewhere (using the "continuous freezing" method) and their goal is making lots of ice cream to be served...sometime, somewhere. That means they have to include stuff like preservatives and other artificial stuff to make certain that their ice cream "holds." They also add whey powder and other ingredients to stretch their ice cream, and they whip in lots of air - that stretches it even further (it does nothing good for the taste, however). We know ours is better for so many reasons - click here to get the entire story.
Q: Why is the store called "Zinger's?"
A: It's a play on our last name - a mispronunciation, actually. Our last name is spelled E-X-I-N-G-E-R, and it's pronounced just like it's spelled (EX in jur). We've been called Zinger (heck, we've been called many things), but we did happen to remember a time just before we bought the store when we were greeted as Mr. and Mrs. Zinger, and we figured that Zinger's would be easier to say and remember, so...that's what we did. We're still called "Zinger" - much more than we used to be. We wonder why?
Q: Is "Zinger's?" a franchise? Can I buy one?
A: Incredibly, we're just a Mom & Pop operation (although we're a really cool Mom & Pop place). We've been asked many, many times to set up another store in ________ (you name it - Beaverton, Seattle, Oklahoma City...we have many fans in many places). We have no "Ben & Jerry's" aspirations for world dominance (and look what happened to them), so for now, this is it. There IS a way you might get the chance to run a Zinger's - you can run THIS one, someday. We're not getting any younger, and the day will come (in the next TWO years) to see if Social Security still works, as we won't be. Working, that is. We're putting together a list of "interested people" who someday might want to chuck the yoke of corporate responsibility and be their own boss in Seaside, Oregon, running what might just be the most successful homemade Mom & Pop operation you know of. If that's you, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Takeover" in the subject matter. We'll add you to the list (still a short one as of this writing).
Q: Why aren't you open all year?
The short answer is
"we're old and tired." As we said above, we make our ice cream
(and waffle cones and fudge) and that takes more effort than just opening a box
and selling you something someone else made some time ago. More than
three-quarters of our ice creams are consumed in the "season" from
Memorial Day to Labor Day. Starting up is a process that we can pretty
much determine at will - just order all your supplies, make a whole bunch of
stuff, and away you go (OK, it's not that easy). Then, once we start, we
throw all our energy (as much as two middle-aged people can muster) into making
ice cream and fudge on a consistent basis. We go nuts all summer long as
we're busier than a mosquito in a nudist camp. Then, we hit the fall
season, when folks think of school, football, and other stuff, and we start to
wind down. Stopping is harder than starting, as we try to time it so we
don't have a whole bunch of fresh stuff around getting old. You wouldn't
like that. So, closing is a timing issue, and it seems that we do it
earlier each year because you eat so much of our good stuff.
website, like our ice cream, is homemade. It's also (c) Zinger's Inc, 2014