Dairy Queen is one of those chains that’s impossible to dislike. The chain that put not only soft-serve ice cream but also the legendary Blizzard on the map has thousands of locations across the globe, and new openings are still treated as special occasions. But even if you’ve got your perfect Blizzard order down pat, we bet that there are still some things you didn’t know about this legendary chain.
Dairy Queen got its start with an ice cream store in Moorhead, Minnesota, owned by a man named Sheb Noble. When his friend John Fremont “Grandpa” McCullough and McCullough’s son Bradley convinced him to start selling soft-serve in 1938, the guys realized that they were onto something after more than 1,600 servings were sold in two hours. Two years later the trio opened the first Dairy Queen in Chicago suburb Joliet, and they never looked back.
Today there are several different Dairy Queen brands, but they all carry soft serve topped off with that signature curl, which is actually trademarked by the company. “Standard stores” sell mostly frozen treats and are only open in the spring and summer (although some food court locations are open year-round); “Treat Centers” are primarily found in food courts and sell frozen treats along with Orange Julius; “Dairy Queen Braziers” serve a fast-food menu of burgers, fries, hot dogs, salads, and chicken strips (The term “brazier” has been phased out over the past 20 years, though); and “DQ Grill & Chill” locations offer limited table service, a modern design, and, in most cases, an expanded menu that includes breakfast. In Texas, you can get a different menu of “Texas Country Foods” with items like the Triple Buster (three patties), the Dude (a chicken-fried steak sandwich), Jalitos (fried jalapeño strips), and beef tacos.
Dairy Queen is truly as American as apple pie, and the company brings that distinctly American style of cuisine and service around the globe. Read on for 10 things that you most likely didn’t know about this beloved chain, and the next time you order a cup of that soft serve, remember that there’s more than 80 years of history behind it.
The Founders Also Invented Soft Serve
The concept of soft serve was developed in 1938 by John Fremont McCullough and his son Bradley. They partnered with ice cream shop owner Sheb Noble to open the first Dairy Queen in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940.
The First Location Is a City-Designated Landmark
Even though it hasn’t been a Dairy Queen since the 1950s, the first location, at 501 North Chicago Street in Joliet, is landmarked.