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Q&A with Zach Fortner Owner of Pineapple Whip

As summer in Springfield, Missouri comes to an end, many people are lining up to get their last taste of Pineapple WhipThis family-owned operation is only open in the summer, making visits to their yellow stands a seasonal treat.  Pineapple Whip has three locations: South Glenstone Avenue, South Campbell Avenue and West Battlefield Road.

The Scoop chatted with Zach Fortner, one of the owners of Pineapple Whip, to find out more about the dessert that has become a summer tradition for many in the Springfield area.

Pictured are the owners of Pineapple Whip Chris, Diana, and Zach Fortner. (Photo courtesy of Zach Fortner.)

Who was the first to make Pineapple Whip? Is it a family recipe?

My grandfather, Dan Fortner, ran the concession stands at the Fair Grounds in the 70s and was trying to come up with unique dessert option.  The end result was the recipe we use to this day.  We’ve added a few over the years and we’re now up to six flavors.

When did he decide to start selling Pineapple Whip to the public?

1974 was the first year my grandpa sold Pineapple Whip at the Ozark Empire Fair.  In the mid-80s when my dad, Mike Fortner, and my uncle, Chris Fortner, had taken over operations, their customers started asking why Pineapple Whip was only available at the Fair.  With this in mind, they built the trailers we use to this day and started setting up during the summers. 

Do you only sell Pineapple Whip in Springfield?

We have definitely considered setting up in surrounding communities, but we haven’t made the jump yet for a variety of reasons. 

What are some of the challenges of running your own business? What are some of the benefits?

Running a business can definitely be a double-edged sword.  It’s really rewarding to be able have an idea and see it through.  Three years ago, I suggested we try something we’d never done before and open for a few days in the winter.  We assumed it would be little more than a marketing stunt but people lined up.  It really feels good to be able to see your plans take shape and succeed.  On the other hand, you also have to take credit for failures, and I’ve had a more than a few of those. 

Probably the most challenging aspect of running a business is its all-consuming nature.  Equipment doesn’t care if you’re at dinner with your wife on a Saturday night; it breaks when it wants to and you just have to go take care of it.  I have to say no to a lot of things because of the demands of the business.  The upside is, there is a degree of flexibility to my schedule that’s really nice.  I have a wife and a 10-month-old daughter, and I get to spend certain times with them I wouldn’t be able to if I had a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work schedule.

What makes Pineapple Whip special?

We are fortunate to have a product that a lot of people seem to really enjoy.  I hesitate to call us special, but I think we’ve been around long enough that we’ve become a part of summer life in Springfield.  We enjoy being able to provide an outlet for people to get together and enjoy themselves with family and friends.  It’s often a good excuse for old friends to catch up, a nice environment for a first date, a good place for a family to get out and enjoy a nice summer night, or a tasty treat just because. 

Each of Pineapple Whip’s stands serves two flavors: a pineapple flavor and a second flavor that changes each week.  Customers can follow Pineapple Whip on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for flavor updates.

 

 


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