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Tastee-Freez is a soft serve franchised chain of 50 fast-food restaurants. Its corporate headquarters is based in Newport Beach, California and has stores in 22 of the United States, with most of its freestanding stores located in Virginia, Illinois and Maryland. The first Tastee-Freez was established in Keithsburg, Illinois.
Tastee-Freez was founded in 1950 in Joliet, Illinois by Leo S. Moranz and Harry Axene. Moranz invented a soft serve pump and freezer which enabled the product, and their Harlee Manufacturing Company produced the machines which franchisees would buy and use in their respective locations. Originally stores focused on iced milk and other frozen dairy-based desserts. Expansion of the brand was rapid in the 1950s; in 1952, there were 315 locations, and by 1957 there were nearly 1800 locations. Fewer than fifty exist today.
Newer locations have a larger fast food menu, far beyond the original offerings. Since 2003, the company has been owned by Galardi Group Franchise & Leasing, a franchisor based in California that also owns Wienerschnitzel hot dog restaurants. Wienerschnitzel has begun to incorporate Tastee-Freez soft serve products in their approximately 350 restaurants. Select Tastee-Freez soft serve products can also be found at The Original Hamburger Stand locations. There are fewer than fifty freestanding stores in the United States.
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Tastee Freez had its own manufacturing arm; "Freez King"; located on Homan Ave in Chicago IL. These machines were the single-barrel 2500 and double barrel 6500; whose most notable feature was the pressurized pump forks going up and down... and later the 2600 and 6600 high production models which remain as the most sought after commercial grade soft serve freezers on the market; for exceptional high volume production efficient of resource. Armin Fiedler was Chief Engineer for Tastee Freez and bought out the manufacturing arm Freez King in 1971; creating the "Freez King" division of International Freezer Corporation; which continued the Tastee Freez / Freez King tradition of unequaled engineering excellence. Omar Knedlick pumps in the TF/FK 2600/6600 models - which could only be produced for Tastee Freez alone; but Freez King under Tastee Freez also manufactured soft serve/shake/slush dispensing freezers for the commercial restaurant market; usually models 925/975 which are single/double barrel machines with options such as air/water cooled; pressurized or gravity fed product to the evaporator/ freezing cylinder; electrical options, etc. which could fit almost any distributor or restaurant owner's needs.
In popular culture
Tastee-Freez was immortalized by John Mellencamp (then performing as "John Cougar") in his song, Jack & Diane, from the 1982 album American Fool. "Suckin' on a chili dog outside the Tastee Freez; Diane's sittin' on Jacky's lap, he's got his hands between her knees."
Tastee Freez was also immortalized by Cheech And Chong in their skit Waiting for Dave, from their 1971 first self-titled album. Head on straight north to you come to the Tastee Freez; make a right and go 97 miles straight...
S. E. Hinton immortalized Tastee Freez in her classic novel The Outsiders, chapter 7. Ponyboy and Two-Bit stop at one on their way to the hospital to visit Johnny and Dally. "We stopped at the Tastee Freez to buy Cokes and rest up, and the blue Mustang that had been trailing us for eight blocks pulled in." It is portrayed in scene 20 of the movie The Outsiders directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
- Tastee-Freez.com - Official Website