What started with a Marion native’s interest in frozen treats and grew into a local summertime tradition, a staple at Cedar Rapids Kernels’s games and even a lip balm has evolved again, this time following national health and dessert trends. Jason Spangler, owner of the decade-old Fruitzen Shaved Ice stands that have been in Cedar Rapids since 2002, opened a new store following the self-serve frozen yogurt fad. Fruitzen Frozen Yogurt debuted at 5350 Council St. NE, Suite E, on July 5, and a two-day grand opening is planned for Sept. 16 and 17. “I wanted to get into products that are healthier than shaved ice,” Spangler said. “And what’s cool about this is that I can actually keep some of our favorite flavors from the shaved ice and use those flavors in the yogurt, too.” Spangler said he has no intention of closing his shaved ice locations — there’s one off Collins Road and Lindale Drive and another inside the Kernels’s stadium, and he makes regular visits to local farmers markets. In fact, Spangler said, the new store front might allow him to continue serving some shaved ice options year-round — right now it’s only available from April through September. Most of the product development for the shaved ice and the frozen yogurt will happen out of the Council Street location from now on, he said. “We are expanding the brand, once again,” he said, adding that he “started the business with just a credit card and a change jar. Now it’s a big operation.” The details
  • Owner: Jason Spangler
  • Company: Fruitzen Frozen Yogurt
  • Address: 5350 Council St. NE, Suite E, Cedar Rapids
  • Contact: Email at info@fruitzen.com
  • Website: http://www.facebook.com/FruitzenFrozenYogurtCedarRapids
  • Hours: Noon to 9:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and noon to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday
  • Staff size: 15 total employees, who work with all the brand’s products
  • Favorite yogurt flavor: “I like the white chocolate mousse.”
About five years after launching his shaved ice product, Spangler branched out with a lip balm line that today is distributed nationwide. In addition to the new frozen yogurt shop, Spangler is getting ready to roll out an all-natural packaged fruit bar to be sold locally and, eventually, worldwide. Spangler, who graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in communications and English, had wanted to work at an advertising agency. But after a couple layoffs, he decided to become his own boss and created a homemade shaved ice booth. “One of the biggest things that I’m actually trying to do is to be a screen writer and a movie maker,” he said. “The shaved ice business gave me some time off to pursue that.” Even though Spangler’s business pursuits now will be year-round, he said he plans to hire managers to run the day-to-day operations, leaving him time to write. Spangler said that, business-wise, frozen yogurt seemed a natural next step after watching the trending self-serve stores succeed from coast to coast and considering his experience in the field of frozen treats. Using real yogurt — with protein, little to no fat and active cultures — Spangler said he has translated some of the 35 different shaved ice flavors to his new fro-yo venture while debuting some unique options as well. “There are these diehards who come in for the sea salt caramel pretzel,” said Spangler, who plans to rotate the 12 frozen yogurt flavors and 50-some toppings he offers. “But I’m going to have a tough time getting rid of that one.” - By Vanessa Miller