Following the invention of soft serve, the creation of thousands of new places to go and sit and eat it was almost inevitable.
April 5, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Dairy Queen: Small-Town Texas Institution
posted by jjray (146 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Furthermore, because soft serve doesn't freeze your mouth, it tastes better than hard ice cream.

Shenanigans.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:13 AM on April 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


Who remembers this playground staple?:

Why did Dairy Queen get pregnant?

Because Burger King forgot to wrap his Whopper.

posted by Mayor Curley at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


DQ is the perfect restaurant - hot eats, cool treats. That's what I like about Texas.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dairy Queen is awesome, especially the old-style ones with the walk-up window outside.

I've never really eaten the food though, only the ice cream.
posted by madajb at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2010


I went to school in Sherman, TX (an hour north of Dallas), and met quite a few natives who helped me formulate a theory: The Texas Small Town Starter Kit. It comes with a gas station and a Dairy Queen. You set those two up, and by the time a week has passed, 300 people have moved there and it has a ZIP Code.
posted by hippybear at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2010 [27 favorites]


Can I get a whu whu for all the lactose intolerant peeps out there who were forced to order Mister Mistees while all the other kids got to eat Blizzards? They were like what's your favorite, Oreo? Cookie dough? Heath bar? But I just sat there getting brainfreeze sipping on my lime Mistee being like, whatevs, who cares, Mistees are the best ALL TIME but really I wasn't fooling anybody. I wanted a Blizzard so bad.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


I'll always have a place at the Dairy Queen. --Libby Mae Brown, Waiting for Guffman
posted by ejazen at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


There was one of those original '50s-style DQs (just a stand with a walk-up window and a few picnic tables) behind the local little theatre in the town where I grew up. I played Harlan in Clarence Day's Life With Father when I was ten, and after every rehearsal and show my mom and I would walk over there for chocolate-dipped cones. What memories! The place has since been torn down.

Though they really have a different vibe going from the DQs of yesteryear, I like the new Grill-n-Chill restaurants. They're clean and open and the burgers are great. And I've found the memory-making potential to be just as high there too. :-)
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2010


Driving through TX, you can immediately decide where to eat by the presence and relative importance of a town's DQ:

Really small towns are not big enough for a DQ -- keep driving. Small towns have a DQ at the hear of the town center -- stop for a cone or a burger, there's not likely to be anything else there. Big towns have a DQ off to the side -- find the BBQ spot thats not a DQ and you might find a hidden gem. At some point, a town gets to be too big for a DQ, and may instead be filled by lots of other chain restaurants -- avoid the Olive Gardens and drive on to the next smaller or larger town on the map. When a town gets big enough to be a city, it'll have a DQ, but it may be well hidden on a side street, because at this size everything is not strung out along the highway -- consult with locals to find the best spot, or drive about town until you see a sign that features a happy animal consuming itself; DQ might be a great place for dessert.
posted by cubby at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


My mixed-race wife and I can't go to Dairy Queen for one very important reason.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:24 AM on April 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Then there is Clark Kellogg stating that a certain player got a Dairy Queen (DisQualification)
posted by Cranberry at 10:26 AM on April 5, 2010


Yesterday there was a reference to "A clean well lighted place" that made me cringe. Dairy Queen never had Hemingway's ennui or foreboding but, for twelve year olds in a rural (or, in my case, exurban) world with a ten speed bike, it served much of the same purpose. McDonald's et c. were further, and antiseptic rather than clean, with well planned designs to get you in and out. DQ was just there and let you stay until you got hungry again.
posted by Some1 at 10:30 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


True story: a friend of mine would plot routes specifically so they maximized the number of Dairy Queens and that you would never go more than an hour without an opportunity for ice cream (this is in the Upper Midwest). We took his route through Southwestern MN to Minneapolis one time, we passed at least 8 DQ's on the way. Genius.
posted by sararah at 10:31 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm bothered by this article. 1) why the Texas focus? I grew up in the midwest, and the DQ was definitely a central part of my little town's social scene. Blizzards and Burgers at the DQ was a weekend staple for any high school kid. 2) this feels a little too much like "city slicker Atlantic reporter travels to rural Texas and discovers that country folks like ice cream(!). Shock!
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:31 AM on April 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


Though I live in Texas, the last DQ I visited was in Huntington Beach, CA - and it sucked.
posted by item at 10:31 AM on April 5, 2010


MrMoonPie: You know, I've always wondered why they named it that. It's actually a tasty treat with a needlessly offensive moniker. If they just changed what it's called a lot of people would be happier.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:34 AM on April 5, 2010


I have the same problem MrMoonPie has. I cannot believe that product ever made it to the menu, is still on the menu, and so few people are appalled by it.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:35 AM on April 5, 2010


I get the impression that the menus are different for Canadian DQs - I'm pretty sure they don't serve a giant ice cream cone like they show in the article and I know they serve chicken fingers, sandwiches and few other things here -- the article talked mostly about burgers and ice cream.

Seems a bit strange to me that DQ would be huge in Texas, but I guess its no stranger than Canada's love for Tim Horton's. I do like DQ's burgers though...
posted by Deep Dish at 10:35 AM on April 5, 2010


As an outsider, I'm confused. Help clarify, my American friends! Is what this article says real? Is there a special affinity for Dairy Queen in Texas, as opposed to the rest of your ever-more perfect union? Or is it, more generally, the Tim Hortons of America?
posted by bicyclefish at 10:39 AM on April 5, 2010


"You see how they mix 'em up? I don't know how it does it, but when they beat [a Blizzard] up it beats out all the calories."

What does this mean? Is he trying to make a case for the Blizzard as a light dessert?
posted by Iridic at 10:40 AM on April 5, 2010


the hell i say! dq is a much bigger phenomenon than texas. as a child, it was happiness in a short (and infrequent) drive away. as a teenager, it was someplace to cruise & look for boys. as an adult, it still brings a smile and a pound or two to the hips with a peanut buster parfait.

as a young adult, i lived 2 blocks from a dq. i worked afternoon/evening shift, and used to come home & immediately put on my jammies because if i was dressed for bed i wouldn't be hoofing it over to the dq. about 3 times a week, at 10:50 pm, i'd run out to my car, drive the 2 blocks, and drive through for a pint of soft serve. holy moses i love that stuff.

my best dq story, though, is also my worst dq story. a year or so out of high school, four of us were driving around & decided to cruise the dq. one of us got the bright idea to moon the patrons. so terri slows down, we all unbutton & unzip our jeans, and as she whips through the parking lot, a trio of asses show up in the windows. we we all rolling around laughing as we shimmied back into our pants when terri saw the lights in the rear view mirror & then we heard the 'WHUP!' of the police siren. a young cop walked up to the car & said something to the effect of 'i just got a report about a bunch of girls mooning the dairy queen.' terri, god bless her, immediately blurted out, 'it wasn't me, officer. i was driving!' the rest of us feigned ignorance and protested mightily, but we all knew we'd been caught, almost literally, with our pants down. after a bit more questioning & protests, the cop finally figured he had shaken us up enough that he let us go with a warning: 'keep your pants up, ladies.' i can't speak for the other 3, but i never mooned another dq after that incident.
posted by msconduct at 10:41 AM on April 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


My mother had a job for the State of Texas in the 1970s that involved driving to various state facilities in far-flung parts of the state. She says that she used to joke that there was a law that you couldn't call yourself a town unless you had a Dairy Queen.

DQ (as they market themselves at times) seems to be in a bit of a decline in Texas. I can think of more places in Austin where they used to be than I can think of ones that are still open. San Antonio-based Whataburger (which, IMO, has a far superior burger but poorer soft serve) seems to be the more common winner of "first fast food outlet" in a growing town.

I remember tales in the early '90s that the reason all of DQ's burgers had names like "Hungr-buster" was because there were so many fillers that they couldn't legally market the patties as hamburger. I'm reasonably sure that wasn't the case, but some times, it tasted like it wsa.
posted by djlynch at 10:41 AM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Storm Chasing in 1978: The Dos and Dont's of Dairy Queens. From a 32-year old issue of Stormtrack magazine.
posted by crapmatic at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine and I ended up in a motel in Jacksonville NC on a 4th of July weekend as part of a comedy-of-errors last minute beach trip. Jacksonville is home to the Marine base Camp Lejuene. The block our motel was on consisted of a tattoo parlor, a strip club, a pawn shop and a Dairy Queen.

We spent a lot of time at the Dairy Queen.
posted by marxchivist at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live next to one of the only seasonal DQ's left in existence. It only serves the cold stuff, and hot dogs.
posted by deezil at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


why the Texas focus?

Have you ever driven across TX? Like, on a non-interstate highway? Dairy Queen is far more prevalent there than anywhere else, to the point where it feels nearly cultish at times. My earlier joke about it being part of a small town starter kit is not hyperbole. DQ is EVERYWHERE in TX. Yes, it's present in many other parts of the country, but it's a peculiarly TX institution.
posted by hippybear at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The DQ in my hometown backed up to the Wyoma Little League field, which made it a great Saturday-night destination... and then the town got an offer from Walgreens. The DQ was razed and all the soft-serve gear was sold for a loss to the mayor's son, who opened up a soft-serve shop in some improbable location with no parking.

We townsfolk regarded this as suspicious dealing, and I don't think anyone ever really patronized the mayor's son's establishment.

Surprisingly, I didn't grow up in Texas. This sort of wheeling-dealing soft-serve conspiracy occurred in northeastern Massachusetts, which wasn't a bastion of gay marriage and organic mochi in 1988.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think of Dairy Queen less as a Texas thing than as a small-town thing. My family is from south central Arkansas, and there are towns down there that don't have anything but a Dairy Queen. This is true in small-town Texas too, but it's not only true of Texas. My family and I drove out to Lubbock once from East Texas, and there were long stretches where the occasional Dairy Queen was your only food option.

Dairy Queen is one of those things I didn't appreciate when I lived there, but now I must have a Blizzard when I go home. My town had two growing up, and when I last went home, I discovered it had none. I guess that means we're a big town now. It made me sad. Plus, now I have to drive to the next town over for my Blizzard.
posted by Mavri at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a special affinity for Dairy Queen in Texas, as opposed to the rest of your ever-more perfect union?

I think that Dairy Queen does well in small towns in hot places. Texas is hot and full of small towns. There are Dairy Queens all over the country, but there SEEM to be more of them in Texas - but I don't know if there really are.

But also, importantly, DQ is slightly different in Texas. The menu has Texas specific stuff on it and the branding all says, "DQ: That's what I like about Texas". They didn't say, for instance, "DQ: that's what I like about Rhode Island" when I lived back east.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:50 AM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


What does this mean? Is he trying to make a case for the Blizzard as a light dessert?

That's the joke, yes.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:51 AM on April 5, 2010


I now have a suitable replacement for 'all the tea in China':

I would not proofread your blog for all the Dairy Queens in Texas.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


> "My mixed-race wife and I can't go to Dairy Queen for one very important reason."

I don't know what's worse - the naming of that treat, or that I puzzled over it for 3 minutes before realising what you meant. Is it possible that people don't notice the pun?
posted by saturnine at 10:58 AM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey Matt, use your millions from running Metafilter to sponsor me to open up a franchise in Central Jersey. I want a Dilly Bar real bad, but I have to drive over 50 minutes to the nearest Dairy Queen!
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:00 AM on April 5, 2010


I can't wait for the next installment, when an intrepid reporter comes to New England and discovers that we like Dunkin' Donuts.
posted by usonian at 11:00 AM on April 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


There are two DQs in walking distance of my house. I had a banana split at one of them yesterday; it has a Brazier (serves burgers, etc). The other one is seasonal (cold stuff only) and has just opened for the year. Like many other locals, we kind of feel that it isn't spring yet until that DQ opens.... and we mob it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:02 AM on April 5, 2010


Texas does, apparently, have more DQs than any US state. Per capita? Who knows?

The comments above comparing DQ to that ridiculous abomination known as Tim Horton's are preposterous. First, DQ has a huge presence in Canada as well, coast to coast. Second, DQ is awesome and TH sucks monster ass. If there is an American TH, it might be Dunkin' Donuts, but DD actually makes decent donuts and passable coffee, while TH makes shit donuts and shit coffee.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:02 AM on April 5, 2010


The DQ in my part of Houston was long gone when I returned here in 2004. For awhile, it was a "Dairy KING" or some knock-off that was actually better than the DQ I remember, but they went bust(er burger) and it's now a skeevy payday loan outfit. Sigh. I tried making a home-made Oreo Blizzard by whipping some Blue Bell vanilla ice cream until it reached the consistency of soft-serve, then crushing my own Oreos into the mix. It wasn't the same. NOT AT ALL.

Am I correct in remembering that DQ served their cold drinks with crushed ice, or is crushed ice just Sonic these days? Mmmm, crushed ice.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2010


Tastee Freez is the equivalent of Dairy Queen in the midwest that didn't make it as big as DQ. Instead of the Blizzard they have the Hurricane. Though, I think many of them have dropped the official franchise and changed to something close like Joe's Tastee Freeze
posted by wcfields at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2010


My mixed-race wife and I can't go to Dairy Queen for one very important reason

I couldn't figure out what you meant because I kept reading "Moolatte" as Moo Latte. Then I I said it out loud. Is it seriously that big a deal to you? Would you refuse to shop at a store named Mel Otto's? Or Mill Autos? I'm not yanking your chain, honestly, I'm just curious.

Growing up in S. Cal, DQ was never a blip on my radar-- in fact I didn't know my native town of Long Beach had one until my neighbors moved in. A family of 4 from Minnesota, they would regularly drive to the DQ, buy up a dozen or more Dilly Bars and Buster Bars, take them back to the house, and throw them in the freezer. To me they were always meh, but I guess they made my neighbors feel more at home.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:06 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Have you ever driven across TX? Like, on a non-interstate highway? Dairy Queen is far more prevalent there than anywhere else, to the point where it feels nearly cultish at times

Eh, driving through Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan - there's a DQ in every single small town along the highway in those states as well. The prevalence of DQ is not a TX thing. I think this article is just trying to use Texas, and its reputation, to give it a more, "look at what the aliens in the country do!"
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:10 AM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I live next to one of the only seasonal DQ's left in existence.

There's another near us in Cheektowaga; it just started opening two/three weeks ago. This past week or so it was up in the 60s and 70s, and they had a line a block long.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:11 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Weird. I am in South-central Pennsylvania and there are 38 Dairy Queens within a fifty-mile radius of my town. I've only been to thirty-six of them.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:12 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"'You see how they mix 'em up? I don't know how it does it, but when they beat [a Blizzard] up it beats out all the calories.'

"What does this mean? Is he trying to make a case for the Blizzard as a light dessert?"


I think that's some of that irony, but then again, since they're pumping a lot of air into the ice cream, it wouldn't have as many calories as the same volume of regular ice cream, would it?
posted by Some1 at 11:14 AM on April 5, 2010


wow - i always just read "mooo latte" and thought "cow coffee".

that really took me a while and saying it out loud to get it (even then it took a minute).

i don't think they are making fun of mixed-race people so much as "cow coffee".
i think it has to do more with the visual of "moo" than the sound they make when said together.

not saying you don't have a right to be offended, just putting in my two cents on that.

anywho - DQ Blizzards as a kid - i always got the Nerds ones. i can't believe they actually put sugar in sugar and gave it to me. i am surprised i didn't have cavities as a child.
posted by sio42 at 11:17 AM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


My wife and I just drove Hwy 281 from the Hill Country of Texas back north to DFW after spending the weekend at a B&B in Wimberley. Those beautiful small towns were alive and kickin with DQ's.
posted by Senator at 11:19 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here in Alabama there are hundreds of (mostly) small towns whose names are anglicized bastardizations of native names: Tuscaloosa, Eufala, Wetumpka, Loachapoka, Nanafalia, etc. Combine an odd-looking word and a heavily idiosyncratic regional accent and you get some weird-sounding places.

Which leads into one of my dad's favorite jokes.

*blows dust off of ancient joke*

A traveling salesman was tasked with showing the new guy his territory. As they went from town to town, the new guy consistently mispronounced the long, tongue-twisting town names. Finally they get to a sign that says "Welcome to Arab, population 1,345". The new guy says, "Hey, finally a name I can pronounce! 'Arab', like the people!" The senior salesman shakes his head. "Nope. It's a long 'a' and the emphasis is on the first syllable. 'A-rab'." The new guy is sure his leg is being pulled. Who would take a perfectly good normal word and mangle it like that? That just can't be right. The senior salesman, a bit exasperated by this point, says, "OK. We'll stop and ask a local. Then you'll see." So they pull into the only restaurant in town. Inside, the senior salesman asks the woman at the counter, "Ma'am, would you please slowly and clearly say aloud the name of the place we are at right now?" The woman looks at them like they're crazy, leans over the counter, and in a loud, clear voice says, "DAI-RY QUEEN."

Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the Blitzburger.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:22 AM on April 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


The Moo Latte is unfortunately named but not with malice, surely. Mulatto is an outdated term but is/was rarely used derogatorily. In fact, it was used on the census well in to the 20th century, and people still write in "mulatto" on their census forms as a way to crudely designate that they are of mixed-race (even though mulatto is often used to describe half-black/half-white ancestry, it actually can mean any person of mixed race).
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:24 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, you can have your Dairy Queen soft ice cream because in Jersey we used to have Carvel Ice Cream Parlors, invented by the ultimate pitch man Tom Carvel, who bragged that his ice cream was produced at your participating Carvel without the use of an air pump, whatever that was. Oh yeah, they used to make these holiday cakes which all looked suspiciously like they were produced using the same mold. Fudgy the Whale was one, I can't remember the others.
posted by digsrus at 11:25 AM on April 5, 2010


Carvel Ice Cream Parlors still exist. They have a couple franchises here in Michigan even. Got th' wife a Cookie Puss for her birthday a few years ago (it was okay).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:29 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I spent a summer in Yell county, Arkansas--on a poultry farm on top of a hill outside Plainview (pop. 752 in the 2000 census; it wasn't much different in 1970). Once a week we got a treat of going to the Dairy Bar in Danville or Ola--in the heat & humidity of an Ozark summer, that was sweet relief indeed. There's still not a DQ in easy reach.

I don't think that the Atlantic writer is giving a lulzTexas view of DQ. The author grew up in Texas & was remembering what a central part of existence it was.

In my childhood it was DQ or Tastee Freez, but nothing--no nothing--beat a cold frosted mug of A&W root beer.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2010


My grandfather owned a Dairy Queen in a small town just outside Tyler, Texas. My brother and I would spend several weeks there during the summer when we were kids. I was there the day he got his blizzard machine delivered. It was a huge deal to him. The best blizzard we ever made was with fresh blueberries. He'd always let us steal quarters from the register to play the arcade games he had in the store. We'd spend hours playing 1942, eating Chicken Finger Baskets, and throwing down blueberry blizzards. We miss you Poppy.
posted by Big_B at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


Witchy-Poo and Cookie-Puss.

Carvel Ice Cream ads were great. That guy's voice always made me think that if I didn't order a cake from them he was gonna shove my broken body into a locker at the Port Authority bus terminal.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Completely backwards

Yes, you can judge the size of a town by the number and location of DQs. No, you should never, ever eat food there. You certainly shouldn't eat at DQ before Olive Garden. Also, the really, really tiny places sometimes have diners and those really tiny diners can be amazing.

I stopped at a place a few months ago that didn't even have a town around it, let alone a DQ. It was a house and out back was a restaurant run by the family that lived in the house. The hamburgers (which was all they served) were on styrofoam plates. I was asked if I wanted a cup for my drink. When asked how big the hamburgers were, the answer was "pretty good-sized". (That actually turned out to be a lie. They were huge. And awesome.) The waitress's son showed me a picture he had colored.
posted by DU at 11:33 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Where's the new DQ in Cheektowaga, ROU_Xenophobe? (I grew up there.)

DQ may still be king (or queen or whatever) but I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_Drive-In is the future for this sort of thing.
posted by Doohickie at 11:33 AM on April 5, 2010



I live next to one of the only seasonal DQ's left in existence. It only serves the cold stuff, and hot dogs.
posted by deezil at 1:49 PM on April 5 [+] [!]


Mebbe you think so, in your temperate clime, but we have only a rare few of the full-blown, year round Dairy Queens in this state. Most of ours are the "See You in the Spring" sort that close up toward the end of October.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:33 AM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


> OMG, Mr. Moon Pie I swear I didn't "get" that until right this minute. WTF?

> Digsrus: How could you forget Cookie Puss?!?
posted by JoanArkham at 11:33 AM on April 5, 2010


Sonic
posted by Doohickie at 11:34 AM on April 5, 2010


ROU Xenophobe: I'd love if I had a list of all these somewhere. The DQ locator does not make this an easy task. Ours opens March 1 to Oct 31 or Nov 1. It's tradition for everyone to go and stand outside on a freezing Halloween night and get the last Blizzard of the season. You haven't lived until you've lined up with what feels like five thousand people and gotten the last taste of sweet bliss for the year.
posted by deezil at 11:38 AM on April 5, 2010


beelzbubba: Really? Wow. I've never thought that many of them did this any more.
posted by deezil at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2010


beelzbubba: "In my childhood it was DQ or Tastee Freez, but nothing--no nothing--beat a cold frosted mug of A&W root beer."

The A&W in my town closed a few years ago, thanks mostly to the new Jack In The Box opening across the street. It's a local restaurant now, serving most of the same A&W stuff, just with different names. They still serve A&W root beer and floats in frosted glass mugs, and it really is the best way to quench a summer thirst.

(Plus, where else can I get deep-fried mushrooms, Walla Walla Sweet onion rings, and a root beer float all in the same place?)
posted by xedrik at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2010


BoP: Are you my father?

As a child who spent may years in prime DQ territory (TN, AL, GA) I was shocked by the sheer number of the things in TX. It's like they used McDonald's algorithms on where to place restaurants for maximum visibility, but forgot to carry a one or something and instead went for all the places the McD metrics said not to.

The last time I went into a DQ, I was dismayed that they no longer had the Dennis the Menace centered advertising. But I'm old school like that...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:46 AM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Eh, driving through Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan (...)

Ok, so here are the states in question. Your assertion seems true - Michigan has the most DQ's per sq. mile of the states in question (see below). This is using the numbers on the DQ site as best as I can tell. I am not REAL confidant about the numbers because in one place they say "More than 600" stores in Texas, but then they only list 571, and it seems like they list "coming soon" stores as well. So who knows? Anyway, the legend is: State > Number of DQ's > Area of State in Sq. Miles > Sq. Miles for each DQ.

  MI 176  58513  332.4
  NE  56  77359 1381.4
  IA 116  56276  485.1
  TX 571 266874  467.4

Interestingly the state that did the best in my calculations was Massachusetts. Go figure.

  MA  36   8262  229.5

posted by dirtdirt at 11:47 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I worked at a DQ for a while in high school and early college. Suburban Indiana, not rural Texas, though.

Having now considered it in detail, however, I think I should offer some praise for soft serve ice cream. First off: soft serve is cheap and soft serve is low in fat.

As our manager often reminded is, DQ soft serve was technically ice milk, not ice cream. We couldn't legally call it ice cream. It was basically milk, sugar, and flavorings. (At least when I worked there, in the late 80s/early 90s. It may have changed since then.) It is [was?] low-fat (at least compared to ice cream) because the liquid base had no more fat than whole milk, with no added cream. Plus, as some1 notes, soft serve has more air in it than an equal volume of hard ice cream.

Would the server turn the Blizzard upside down? She turned the Blizzard upside down. Mayfield told me that Blizzards do sometimes fall out.

Ah, the banana split Blizzard, the bane of our existence. Our manager was big on turning the Blizzards upside down as we handed them to the customer. Which usually worked fine, except for the banana split Blizzard. For Blizzards which were just a sundae flavor (e.g., if you just wanted a strawberry Blizzard), you just added 2 oz. of the strawberry sundae topping for a medium Blizzard (IIRC), and that left it thick enough to be served upside down. But the banana split Blizzard included fresh bananas as well as the chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple syrups. Theoretically, you were supposed to use 1/2 oz. of each of these, so you'd still have the same amount of total flavoring as in any other sort of Blizzard. In practice, it was hard to add just 1/2 oz. of a syrup (less for a small!) using a 2-oz. ladle or pump, so these inevitably ended up less viscous than other types, and you inverted it at your own risk.

Searching for Dairy Queen in Google's newspaper archives:

I hope no one mistakes a Google news archive search for a serious newspaper search. Google is still nowhere near the Factiva or Lexis-Nexis archives your library probably has access to. But if you just want to pad your word count for a puff piece, I suppose it'll do.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:47 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really like how Dairy Queens are so different - at least they were in West Virginia. Some Dairy Queens served hot dogs in New England-style buns and some served them in regular style buns. The hot dog chili and coleslaw was different in each location too - it was a widely known fact among my friends that the Point Pleasant Dairy Queen had the best hot dog chili, but not as many Blizzard flavors, whereas the West End Dairy Queen had every Blizzard flavor ever, including all of the monthly special ones (nothing is more awesome than eating a pumpkin pie blizzard in February).

I guess I like it because I feel like all the other fast food chains are so regulated, whereas Dairy Queen seems to be pretty much "hey, franchisers, do what you want."

That being said, I really don't like Dairy Queen food. But Dilly Bars have a special place in my heart (and arteries).
posted by kerning at 11:50 AM on April 5, 2010


From Texas, now living in Arizona. Have discovered a strange phenomenon here: the limited-menu DQ. It's mostly there just for the desserts, but they sell hot dogs and (I think?) onion rings. No burgers or fries or anything like that. Kinda strange.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:50 AM on April 5, 2010


Fudgy the Whale was one, I can't remember the others.

Hug-Me the Bear and Cookie Puss.
posted by madajb at 11:58 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding MooLatte, I genuinely had no clue what the issue was. I actually thought maybe you had problems with "blended coffee" or something like that.

But that's because I've never heard the phrase "mulatto," ever. Huh. I wonder if someone snuck this by or if they genuinely just thought Moo for Cow/Milk and Latte for... coffee, with more milk.

Apparently Slate's discussed this as well.

That said, I fucking love Dairy Queen.
posted by disillusioned at 11:58 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, you can have your Dairy Queen soft ice cream because in Jersey we used to have Carvel Ice Cream Parlors

One of the joys of my youth was when our little New Mexico mountain town (no DQ, just a Sonic ... and a Schlotzsky's) finally got cable and thus WWOR. The Carvel commercials were a highlight every day. Especially as my mom would mutter under her breath every time "those poor goddamned Yankees"
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:01 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I may have forgotten Cookie-Puss but I haven't forgotten the hot syrup they dipped your soft ice cream into which magically turned into a solid layer of flavored goodness. Eating one of these cones was also a lesson in fluid dynamics as many a poor kid discovered as the cone he spent too much time eating either dripped out underneath the coating onto his hand or God forbid, sloughed off the side of the cone onto the street. I never got a chance to sample any of the other flavors because the cherry ones were just too good.
posted by digsrus at 12:02 PM on April 5, 2010


Have discovered a strange phenomenon here: the limited-menu DQ. It's mostly there just for the desserts, but they sell hot dogs and (I think?) onion rings. No burgers or fries or anything like that. Kinda strange.

That's when you seek out the "Dairy Queen Brazier" restaurants. They have a more extended menu, usually including the expected burgers and such.

We had both types in my hometown of Las Cruces, NM growing up, and I remember being confused about why one had this extra word on their sign pole, because we always went to the ice-cream-only location to get the ice cream. I remember my father saying something disparaging about DQ food when I finally figured it out around the age of 8, and that stuck with me until I was in college in TX. The burgers at the restaurant locations here in Spokane do great burgers. I do miss the beef finger basket. It's all chicken strips now.
posted by hippybear at 12:05 PM on April 5, 2010


One of my fondest childhood memories is walking two blocks to the DQ in the heat of the Houston summer and sitting at the picnic table outside with one of my parents or grandparents and eating a dip cone. I can still taste the cold soft serve and the chewy chocolate coating, and feel how sticky my hands were when I was done, because I could never eat it faster than it melted.

Crap, I'm making a stop on the way home tonight.
posted by beowulf573 at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Witchy-Poo and Cookie-Puss.

Carvel Ice Cream ads were great. That guy's voice always made me think that if I didn't order a cake from them he was gonna shove my broken body into a locker at the Port Authority bus terminal.


Tom Carvel himself.
Who would be very disappointed you got Witchy the Witch confused with HR Puffnstuff. heh.
posted by madajb at 12:08 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and of course, there's Larry McMurtry's book Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, which is an interesting book about storytelling and book collecting, and includes McMurtry's praise for the Lime-Dr. Pepper treat unique to the Archer City DQ.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2010


That's when you seek out the "Dairy Queen Brazier" restaurants. They have a more extended menu, usually including the expected burgers and such.

Actually, hippybear, the DQ closest to my house is a "Brazier" but they only serve hot dogs (and desserts). There's another DQ Brazier way on the other side of town that serves chicken strips and sandwiches. And according to the DQ locator, the nearest one that serves Burgers is halfway to Mexico, and the nearest one that serves breakfast is in Phoenix (I'm in Tucson). And to my knowledge, none of the DQs are seasonal.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:14 PM on April 5, 2010


Or is it, more generally, the Tim Hortons of America?
the tim horton's of america is mcdonald's. though mcdonald's is not associated with donuts, mcdonald's and tim horton's have locations in some of the most far-flung places within their native lands (and abroad, but that's not the point) wherein the company sells inferior product compared the competition.

while i am on my soapbox, i want to mention that i wish that there was an american version of canadian tire money. i know there are lots of places that have their own redeemable currency, but no company has made it as much a part of their identity.
posted by the aloha at 12:16 PM on April 5, 2010


Grrrr. this thread has had Indigo Girls' "Dairy Queen" running through my head since I started reading it.

It's not really about the restaurant, per se.
posted by hippybear at 12:17 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The DQ closest to me in west-ish Houston (10228 Westheimer) is strange; sit-down or to-go only (no drive-thru), and cash-only. This article has me tempted to get $20 out of the ATM and hit it up for dinner on the way home tonight.

I spent a LOT of time at the DQ in my hometown in Oklahoma; it was one of the tiny versions with four booths inside, some picnic tables outside, and a drive-thru. Best of all, it was directly across the street from the county courthouse where my mom worked.
posted by mrbill at 12:19 PM on April 5, 2010


Carvel Ice Cream ads were great.

Can't believe no one's actually linked the Hug-Me Bear and Cookie Puss commerical yet.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:22 PM on April 5, 2010


This is really weird, I had no idea Dairy Queen was held in some esteem different than your average chain fast food restaurant by so many people or that it even is common to show up in the smaller towns when other companies don't. There's like over ten here but they don't seem to be special to anybody I know (Portland, maybe not a small town).

Can someone just like, put together a book of all this stuff for me? Just figure out what common knowledge I'm missing from my comment history and some nontrivial algorithms, shouldn't be a big deal.
posted by floam at 12:25 PM on April 5, 2010


It's not really about the restaurant, per se.

this link is about the restaurant per se.
posted by the aloha at 12:26 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never associated DQ with Texas when I lived there because when I was living in other states, I had seen DQs all over the place. I always found the food in DQ pretty gross and the Blizzard would be the only thing I'd every eat there. Until DQ's recent ad campaigns tying it to Texas, I thought "DQ=small town". Although I was in Bangkok and saw one there in a food court at a mall.

To me, Whataburger and Sonic do a better job at defining the regional fat food of Texas. Now that I'm back to California, I've been buzzed at 3am and craved a taquito from Whataburger and the closest Whataburger is in Tucson (strangely Tucson is also home of the easternmost In-n-Out burger... Ground Zero in the TX v CA burger joints).

On a hot day I wanted a Cherry Lime-ade. I looked online and found the closest one is 20 miles away which doesn't seem too worth it.
posted by birdherder at 12:27 PM on April 5, 2010


Grew up in NJ and a Carvel within bike-able distance, and every birthday I got a Carvel ice cream cake with some cartoon character (Snoopy, Garfield) drawn on it in gel icing. Don't forget about Cookie O'Puss, the St. Patrick's Day treat! I love soft serve (and ice cream cakes) to this day, and I am not picky about where I purchase it. DQ will do just fine.
posted by chowflap at 12:30 PM on April 5, 2010


One of the seminal memories of my childhood is the walk-up DQ near my grandparent's house in Woburn MA. Today, I can't stand DQ. There are so many better places to get ice cream. I'll take Bruster's over DQ any day.
posted by COD at 12:38 PM on April 5, 2010


strangely Tucson is also home of the easternmost In-n-Out burger... Ground Zero in the TX v CA burger joints

THEMS FIGHTIN' WORDS! Inn-n-Out's fries are tasteless and their (admittedly tasty) burgers are so sloppy they are as likely to end up in your lap as in your mouth.

Whataburger, on the other hand, has terrific fries and a burger that won't fall apart from the weight of its own grease.

Blake's Lotaburger is an acceptable alternative to Whataburger when in New Mexico.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:39 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's when you seek out the "Dairy Queen Brazier" restaurants. They have a more extended menu, usually including the expected burgers and such.

I've always wondered if the Brazier half of the store was the result of some kind of merger long ago, or if it was just a second brand for Dairy Queen, because I've never seen a DQ store without a Brazier attached.

The thing about the MooLatte thing that gets me is, it very much seems like one of those things where it's just bad luck and/or personal cratchets that makes the connection and its unfortunate sound-alike. But if it's not a pun on that word, then what is it a pun on? It might be a case where they just strung "Moo" and "Latte" together because they thought it sounded good, not realizing that it did so because it matched up with a Certain Word.
posted by JHarris at 12:43 PM on April 5, 2010


Q: This drink, it's not the "Mulatto"?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:49 PM on April 5, 2010


The thing about the MooLatte thing that gets me is, it very much seems like one of those things where it's just bad luck and/or personal cratchets that makes the connection and its unfortunate sound-alike.

Or simply pronunciation.
In my completely scientific sample of 3 people, none of us managed to make Moolatte sound like mulatto.

Moo-lah-tay vs. Mah-lah-toe.
posted by madajb at 12:59 PM on April 5, 2010


Inn-n-Out's fries are tasteless
Yeah, I agree, but it's probably because they don't have all the nasty shit that makes tasty fast-food fries tasty. Here in Tucson, one of the best local burger joint's was a little shack called Shari's, which unfortunately closed down about a year ago. A walk up window with a couple of park benches under a patio, and a drive-through. Killer burgers and fries, and they made the best shakes. Once near Xmas I got a peppermint eggnog shake which tasted like a delicious orgasm.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:01 PM on April 5, 2010


Blake's Lotaburger is an acceptable alternative to Whataburger when in New Mexico.

Oh, Lotaburger. Is there anything you can't do? Great breakfasts, pretty excellent burgers, mexican food that actually tastes like what I want mexican food to taste like...

I am a sucker for a Whataburger and have one anytime I'm in Las Cruces, but Blakes is like a minor pilgrimage even for people who live with them all the time.
posted by hippybear at 1:06 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


A friend's niece was learning to read when she suggested that we visit the brassiere for lunch. It took a few minutes to parse Brazier out of that.
posted by workerant at 1:07 PM on April 5, 2010


Oh, and of course, there's Larry McMurtry's book Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, which is an interesting book about storytelling and book collecting, and includes McMurtry's praise for the Lime-Dr. Pepper treat unique to the Archer City DQ.

As a note, Sonic Drive-In's attempted incursion into Archer City lasted for exactly three years, 2005-2008. Then and now: Archer City is home to one fast food restaurant, Dairy Queen.
posted by ormondsacker at 1:10 PM on April 5, 2010


Oh, I don't think DQ deliberately named their drink after the children of mixed-race marriages, no. But it seems to me that the undoubtedly-multi-million-dollar-a-year marketing department might have come up with a name for their coffee-and-milk concoction that wasn't so, you know, evocative. It's not like they had to name it that.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:17 PM on April 5, 2010


I am a sucker for a Whataburger

Growing up in Oklahoma, the Whataburgers were always on the bad side of town, were run down, and generally looked "bad". They were generally regarded to have horrible food, and therefore I never ate at one.

After moving to Texas, the boss suggested one day "Hey, let's go to Whataburger for lunch." I was convinced that they were trying to play a joke on me, and said as much. The rest of the office looked at me like I'd grown an extra head, and after some discussion we proceeded there.

All I can say is that the Whataburgers in Texas are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the ones in Oklahoma. The food is good, service is decent, and the price is okay. Although there was the time when I hit the drive-thru at 2am and they said "Sorry, sir, we're closed right now, we just got robbed." So, I drove 4-5 miles to the next closest location - and while I was sitting in the drive-thru there, the cops who had worked the robbery at the first location pulled up to park and went in to get dinner...
posted by mrbill at 1:19 PM on April 5, 2010


There are no DQs in Vermont. There used to be one in Burlington, but it has now become something called "Qtee's". I have no idea what that means.

You might think this would be attributable to Ben and Jerry's and snobbery or something, but there really aren't many of those around either (certainly none within a 45 minute drive of my house, for instance). Instead, nearly every podunk town has one or more creemee (soft serve) stands that are independent and open seasonally. Some of these creemee stands are lame, and offer a wide variety of flavors that are just vanilla with some nasty syrup on top. The good ones, though, tend to have vanilla, chocolate, vanilla/chocolate swirl, and maybe black raspberry or pistachio. If they have pistachio you know you're in for teh awesome.
posted by GodricVT at 1:29 PM on April 5, 2010


In this case, Mr. Moon Pie, I think it is highly likely that the connection was not made until after the initial introduction of the Moolatte to the public. By that time, money would have been spent on ads and menus and signs, etc. I'm guessing that the company decided that the mulatto connection was just not unfortunate enough to change the name.

Carvel Ice Cream ads were great. That guy's voice always made me think that if I didn't order a cake from them he was gonna shove my broken body into a locker at the Port Authority bus terminal.

The one thing guaranteed to crack my husband up is my impression of Tom Carvel; he has such a resonating and gravely voice which makes it so distinctive.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:36 PM on April 5, 2010


Here in Fargo/Moorhead, we've got two classic DQs which are open seasonally, have the walk-up windows only, and look like barns. According to my stepson, the one in walking distance from our house was, when he was much younger, The Best Barn In The World. From what I understand, they're owned by the same family, who had originally lived in the upstairs attic of one when they first bought the franchises, and they operate independently of the Braizers that have sprung up around town. The day those Dairy Queens open is a freakin' holiday: there can be snow on the ground and there will be a huge line of people in coats and boots waiting to buy their Blizzards. It's an institution, it is, and it isn't just any Dairy Queen: the Moorhead Dairy Queen invented the Dilly Bar.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:39 PM on April 5, 2010


If there is an American TH, it might be Dunkin' Donuts

The American Tim Hortons is just more Tim Hortons. You can't swing a dead cat in the Great Lakes area without hitting one, even if they haven't metastasized throughout the country yet. *shrug* It's better than McDonalds or Subway.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:40 PM on April 5, 2010


mrbill: I grew up in Texas, but was never a big fan of Whataburger. Not that it's "bad" when compared to other fast food -- the burgers compare favorably, but I always thought the fries were too greasy. But, just wasn't a huge fan, probably because there wasn't one super near where I lived (Burger King was a lot closer).

Strangest thing though. When I was applying to graduate programs, I traveled to Chicago, Davis CA, Santa Barbara, and Tucson to visit the schools where I'd been accepted and that I was most interested in. During those visits, I always spent some time hanging out with graduate students. Without fail, I was asked at least once (if not more), "So, you're from Texas... you must be craving a Whataburger, huh?" I had no idea that my state was so associated with the franchise.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:40 PM on April 5, 2010


My family and I drove out to Lubbock once from East Texas, and there were long stretches where the occasional Dairy Queen was your only food option.

Same from Amarillo to Lubbock on 287.
posted by zarq at 1:52 PM on April 5, 2010


Grew up in NJ and a Carvel within bike-able distance, and every birthday I got a Carvel ice cream cake with some cartoon character (Snoopy, Garfield) drawn on it in gel icing. Don't forget about Cookie O'Puss, the St. Patrick's Day treat!

Grew up watching Tom Carvel's commercials on local (NY) stations, and there's a Carvel within walking distance of my house. They still sell Fudgie the Whale, too. :)
posted by zarq at 1:55 PM on April 5, 2010


Well of course they still sell Fudgie the Whale -- it's the Nard Dog's favorite dessert!
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:00 PM on April 5, 2010


Where did my MeFi moniker come from? Well, forty years ago I was driving through Cozad, Nebraska, and right there, by the Dairy Queen, by the railroad tracks, was the town fountain. In the fountain there were dozens of fucking leeches. Huge ones. So that's the story about how Gregg became kozad. No, it doesn't make sense. I was a surrealist forty years ago, and am a surrealist today.
posted by kozad at 2:00 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, forty years ago I was driving through Cozad, Nebraska, and right there, by the Dairy Queen, by the railroad tracks, was the town fountain. In the fountain there were dozens of fucking leeches.

WTF!!! THIS ISN'T A RASPBERRY SUNDAE!!!!!!
posted by zarq at 2:05 PM on April 5, 2010


my cousins have owned the local DQ in my hometown in Texas for around 30 years....about 10 years ago, they decided to spice up the menu and add things like fried catfish and steaks. It was a big hit - except with DQ. They threatened to shut them down if they didn't stick to the menu, so my cousins decided to drop the DQ from the sign, and call it "The Family Restaurant." They still serve all the DQ items, they just call them something else. Odd, but still, the same old DQ of my youth - with bonus steak.
posted by bradth27 at 2:13 PM on April 5, 2010


I ate in a DQ in Midland, TX a few weeks ago and the food was terrible. My first and last DQ experience.
posted by qwejibo at 2:15 PM on April 5, 2010


I live next to one of the only seasonal DQ's left in existence.

Yeah, I was baffled by this as well (and not merely because the words "one of the only" are meaningless) -- in Canada, Dairy Queen is a seasonal thing in many places. There are a few of the larger dine-in restaurants which serve burgers and such, but probably 80% of them that I have seen in my life are walk-up places with either a window you order from or enough customer space inside for maybe four or five people to stand at a counter and wait for their ice cream. And these are April-to-October businesses.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:16 PM on April 5, 2010


I grew up in Texas, plus I'm currently living in California and I've been to a lot of the "Southern" states and along the east coast, and while Dairy Queens are in all of those places, I have to say they're more prevalent and serve more varieties of food in Texas. For example, I didn't even know there were Dairy Queens that didn't serve a full menu of burgers and chicken strips and all that until I saw them outside of Texas. In a lot of places they're just drive-through soft serve places.

Also, at least as of a couple years ago when I was in Austin and Houston, the chain was making a resurgence with new centrally-located stores in the bigger cities. Dairy Queen commercials were on all the time, and the commercials were as much about the burgers as the soft serve. They'd abandoned the quaint, old town image and their commercials are much like that of other fast food places. I haven't heard of this resurgence in other states, but I could be wrong. I still only see them in small towns outside of Texas, but it's only been a couple years.

For what it's worth, the burgers and fries and chicken strips at those new locations are INCREDIBLE, so if you have a new DQ near you, you might want to check it out.

Someone above mentioned that we get special "Texas" items at DQ, and while this is true, I don't think that in particular is an argument for its being considered a Texan thing: we get special "Texas" menu items at most nationwide and regional fast food chains that you wouldn't consider a Texan thing -- off the top of my head, Burger King and Wendy's for sure, then I think McDonalds has done it, etc. There's seemingly always a "Texas burger" on the menu.

However, there's a whole extra menu that's limited only to Texas, so it's arguable that's more substantial than only a few items.

Anyway, for whatever reason DQ came to be a special Texas thing despite its originating in Illinois and having plenty of locations elsewhere. They even have a separate DQ website for Texas at dqtexas.com, and it's always marketed to Texans as being particularly Texan. Maybe they're just exploiting the tendency of Texans to self-identify as Texan; after having lived other places, that degree of identification with one's state seems uncommon, and other states don't seem to make learning their state's history such a repetitive part of the curriculum: I had to go over Texas history multiple times in elementary school, then for a full year of history middle school, then a full year of history in high school. No one can forget the Alamo. They won't let you.
posted by Nattie at 2:25 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I read DevilsAdvocate's comment and thought for a minute that I had posted it; I too served up ice cream at a small-town Indiana DQ in high school, and I too know the pain of the runny Banana Split Blizzard.

My personal Blizzard low-point, however, involved a Snickers blizzard. We blended the ones with hard candy bits (like Snickers or M&Ms) in the cup inside another cup, because the candy bits would poke little holes in the cup as it was blended. I finished making a great blizzard and the customer asked if I'd turn it upside-down. I did, and it stayed in the cup--but that cup then slid right out of the second cup, which I had forgotten to remove.
posted by Nedroid at 2:29 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Deezil - I'm guessing you live in Murray, KY? I grew up and went to college there, moved away to England four years ago, and whenever I go back home you'll find me in line at the DQ (between Easter and Halloween, at least). Have an Oreo Blizzard for me.
posted by Wroksie at 2:49 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I've traveled anywhere, but especially in my home country of America, I like to travel the backroads and stop in the towns too small for even the DQ or Whataburger.
Almost 40 years ago, I traveled the backroads of the Ozarks with two friends--only one survives to be able to corroborate my tale--we hopped off I-55 just north of the New Madrid Fault, around Sikeston, and meandered WSW. We had set out from Chicago around 10 pm in a 64 Beetle that already had 135K miles on it, with a jar of Mrs. Smucker's Grape PB&J concoction, two loaves of Salerno white bread, and a half gallon cooler of raspberry Wyler's drink, which one of us spilled all over the back seat and between the front seats. Made St. Louis by 4 a.m. having already discovered that Smuckers PB&J is inedible at temperatures above 80 degrees. We stopped at White Castle in St. Louis, happy to see a familiar brand in the days before fast food ubiquity.
After Sikeston, we hit smaller & smaller roads though the Ozarks, predating Least Heat Moon by a few years, until, about noon, we came upon a root beer & dairy barn outside of Dover Arkansas with the unlikely name of The Booger Holler Burger Barn. Two of us wanted to press on--Russellville was only 15 miles up the road and I knew from my summer in Plainview the year before that it was damn near cosmopolitan for north central Arkansas. But the third voice would absolutely NOT go on without making it impossible for us, so we turned around & pulled into Booger Holler, for their epic "Booger in a Basket" which was a burger rivaling Culver's bit of butter makes a better burger magic.
They had soft serve & the food came in the cross-hatched red baskets that have signified drive in fare since Jacob & Esau opened the first Falafel-Fast in Canaan.
Now, Russellville has both DQ & Whataburger (the latter useless to me having gone vegetarian a couple of years after this epic road trip). At the time, I think that there was a Jack-in-the-Box and a handful of diners.
posted by beelzbubba at 2:55 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think that I liked DQ more as a kid because of things like Dilly Bars, which in their non-chocolate incarnations had a weird color and somewhat plasticky taste, in other words, the way that food was supposed to look and taste in the future. Now, my initial instinct when seeing a DQ is to want to try to find the local soft-serve place that isn't a chain, or at least isn't a national chain.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:58 PM on April 5, 2010


in Canada, Dairy Queen is a seasonal thing in many places. There are a few of the larger dine-in restaurants which serve burgers and such, but probably 80% of them that I have seen in my life are walk-up places with either a window you order from or enough customer space inside for maybe four or five people to stand at a counter and wait for their ice cream. And these are April-to-October businesses.

I'm sure curious to know what part of Canada you're referring to, but it sure isn't MY part of Canada. My city had 8 or 9 locations, and the only ones that were frozen treats only were in mall food courts, and one that had indoor seating and was open year-round -- the rest were Brazier restaurants with the full menu. The season would be much too short for them, otherwise.

In fact, the location we went to, which was inside a mall, once bragged about being the LARGEST Dairy Queen in the world! It might have been, though it's since been reconfigured and doesn't seat nearly as many. But boy, I sure remember the smoky brown interior, padded plastic seats, Dennis the Menace advertising posters on the wall, and yes, crushed ice in the soft drinks.

Every last one of them has been converted to a DQ Grill and Chill. But they still have the classic menu items, so it's all good.

My strangest experience at a DQ might have been my last trip to the U.S. Returning home through Plentywood, MT, which is about the closest American town to Regina -- 100 miles straight south -- I was starting to worry because it was past suppertime and I was starting to doubt I would find any fast food franchises on this last leg of the trip. But in Plentywood I rounded the corner, and there was a rustic Dairy Queen with its own special menu.
posted by evilcolonel at 3:08 PM on April 5, 2010


I had a Dilly Bar for the first time in about 30 years today. Thank you thread!
posted by ericthegardener at 3:19 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mrbill, I wondered where that DQ on Westheimer had gone. I used to eat there when I worked in that part of town. My mother still lives out there, and I looked for it the last time we visited and it had moved. I just thought it had gone out of business.

When I found a DQ in New Jersey (one of the Braziers), I had it explained to me that DQ out-of-Texas (or at least DQ-in-NJ) was not like Texas and they didn't have the full menu with burgers and such. This was strange to me because I think of DQ as a regional burger place with ice cream, not an ice-cream place with burgers. Growing up, when we went out into the country on weekends to do things, DQ was where we ate.

The other strange discovery about DQ outside of Texas was no Dude (chicken-fried steak sandwich), which is what this thread is making me crave.
posted by immlass at 3:25 PM on April 5, 2010


evilcolonel: Closer to home is this rustic gem, in Moose Jaw, SK. I am not sure, but I think it is a seasonal location. The entire area around it seems to be from another place and time.
posted by Deep Dish at 3:32 PM on April 5, 2010


When I crave ice cream, it's never DQ. But it's a different story when I want ice cream cake.
posted by emeiji at 3:32 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was a child, after I went to the dentist and had cavities filled (this was a semiannual event, I have horrible teeth - this anecdote might be part of the reason why) my grandmother would take me to Dairy Queen and buy us both a Skor blizzard. I was always frozen on one side of my mouth and usually ended up with it on my shirt, but my grandmother didn't care. Or, apparently, see the irony of giving a child with cavities sugar covered in ice cream.

My ex and I had a standing disagreement over the superior Blizzard flavour - I still insist on the supremacy of Skor (occasionally with extra Skor) while he preferred Oreo. But then again, his favourite kind of ice cream is also plain old chocolate chip, so what does he know.
posted by hepta at 3:36 PM on April 5, 2010


Growing up in Austin, 99 cent Dairy Queen banana splits were an occasional treat that I looked forward to a lot. I think eventually Amy's became my favorite ice cream place, but man I still occasionally have to stop by a DQ to get a Blizzard. So so good. So so bad for me.

As to some of the other places mentioned here. Sonic really is fast becoming an institution here as well. Though they're not nearly as ubiquitous as Dairy Queen nationwide. The cruelest thing is they advertise nationally but have big gaps in their coverage. Many a time when I was at Notre Dame, I would see an ad for something Sonic and get a craving, only to realize the nearest one was hours away.

Whataburger I can take or leave, except for the awesome breakfast taquitos. In their favor though, one of my friends from high school worked there for years, and she still loves their food, which is a different story from just about any other fast food place I've heard of.
posted by kmz at 3:37 PM on April 5, 2010


Closer to home is this rustic gem, in Moose Jaw, SK. I am not sure, but I think it is a seasonal location.

I'm sure it is, if it's still operating at all -- the Midas Muffler next door is boarded up.

Saskatoon still has one of those seasonal locations as well, on 8th Street, and it's still a hit.

By the way, does anyone remember DQ's brief foray into traditional hard ice cream? I remember my parents would drive across the city to the only DQ in town that would chocolate-dip a hard ice cream cone.
posted by evilcolonel at 4:05 PM on April 5, 2010


On closer inspection, there's a signboard advertising current deals in front of that Moose Jaw store, so I guess it's still in business.

Here's the Saskatoon location. Also note that Saskatoon still has some of the cool old McDonald's signs.
posted by evilcolonel at 4:09 PM on April 5, 2010


Can I just chime in that I love this thread, and really couldn't care less about Dairy Queen? The linked article and all of your comments are fantastic, and have made for a great 20 minutes. Thanks, all.
posted by nevercalm at 4:12 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was 5 or 6 years old, my neighbor owned a Carvel. He took us there one night after closing, and told us we could have whatever we wanted. My younger sister opted for some massive thing with just about everything in the house. Next, he asked my father what he wanted. My father pointed at me and said "I'll have whatever he has." My order? "A vanilla cone please. No, no sprinkles. Thank you."

That was 30 years ago. I'm still hearing about it.
posted by nevercalm at 4:16 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


By the way, does anyone remember DQ's brief foray into traditional hard ice cream?

Yep, it was called "Queen's Choice" and we had eight flavors at the store where I worked. Not exactly strong competition to Baskin-Robbins in that field.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:51 PM on April 5, 2010


. . . I never mooned another dq after that incident.

I love it. It would be even funnier if someone were walking into a room and only heard you saying that last sentence.

When I was a kid, a day on which I got to go to Dairy Queen for a dipped cone was a day that could not be ruined. Especially if I got to hang around and play Centipede on the table machine with the rollerball.

It has to be said, though, that the soft serve you can get from any ordinary Mr Whippy in the UK or Ireland knocks it sideways. Actual butterfat! The only thing we have to compare to it is frozen custard.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:05 PM on April 5, 2010


Do you people in other places besides Texas have butterscotch dipped cones at your DQs anymore? Those are gone forever for everyone, right? We're all in the same boat of sadness here, yes?
posted by 23skidoo at 5:12 PM on April 5, 2010


Butterscotch lives! In the DC area, anyway. I don't know why anyone would ever bother with any other flavor.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:35 PM on April 5, 2010


My husband moved from Texas more than 20 years ago, yet, at times, he will wax nostalgic about the steak fingers with cream gravy from Dairy Queens in Texas. He is still heart broken that we can't get them in Virginia.
posted by SuzySmith at 5:44 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have some fond DQ memories. I also have a bad one. When I was ten or so I accompanied my travelling salesman father on one of his road trips during the summer. We ended up riding out a tornadic-near miss in a Dairy Queen somewhere in east Texas. I remember the wind shaking the hell out of the windows, and saw all sorts of debris flying around in the parking lot, including one huge piece of red cardboard that went tumbling out over the highway. I was so nervous I barely touched the cone my dad had gotten me. When the storm lifted and we left, I saw that the big piece of red cardboard had in fact been a goodish portion of the sheet metal roof of the DQ.

Strangest thing is that my older brother has almost exactly the same story from a few summers before, though there was no roofage lost at their DQ haven. We wondered if Dad somehow sought out storms for us, and what that would have implied. Also, I think this proves the ubiquity of DQs in Texas.
posted by John Smallberries at 5:54 PM on April 5, 2010


Tom Carvel was a genius. Fudgy the Whale cakes are ice cream works of art.

Tom Carvel: .
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:54 PM on April 5, 2010


[INSERT SLY COOKIE-O-PUSS REFERENCE]
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:26 PM on April 5, 2010


I had a LARGE "counrty basket" (six 6! crisp batterd and tender steak fingers) with extra Texas Toast and two gravies...with a heap of fries included. The cream gravy was peppery and too hot to eat right away,,,the fingers wre PERFECT and I had an Iced tea. All for 5.99 in Ennis, TX two days ago, Wonderful...OMG...so wonderful. Of course I used some of the gravy to top the fries. The extra TX toast was for dippin too.
posted by shockingbluamp at 6:34 PM on April 5, 2010


We always had the butterscotch dip, 23skidoo, and sometimes we'd have cherry too... and during the magical time when we offered a Cotton Candy Blizzard, we'd dip a cone in that if you asked.
posted by Nedroid at 6:41 PM on April 5, 2010


The American Tim Hortons is just more Tim Hortons. You can't swing a dead cat in the Great Lakes area without hitting one, even if they haven't metastasized throughout the country yet.

I don't think it's really there yet. At least in the bits of the Great Lakes I'm familiar with - Cleveland and Chicago, primarily - there aren't any at all. (The Tim Hortons website shows none within 50 miles, the largest distance it'll let you search and it says there isn't a single one in Illinois.) I'd think Dunkin' Donuts would probably be closer to the Tim Hortons of America, though my judgement might be a bit skewed from having lived in Boston, where it is truly omnipresent.

Closer to the topic, I had no idea Dairy Queen had non-dessert food. The ones I went to as a kid (treats after sports games and so on) had only ice cream. But man, I loved me some Blizzards and also those creamy star popsicle things.
posted by ubersturm at 6:42 PM on April 5, 2010


My only significant DQ memory would be my father becoming furious one time when the service was awful. I grew up in a suburb of Toronto and our DQs were mostly seasonal and didn't serve hot food. I remember the "Brazier" DQs as something I found kind of fascinating… so special!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:55 PM on April 5, 2010


Dairy Queen. Sounds kinda gay.
posted by telstar at 7:04 PM on April 5, 2010


I had to go over Texas history multiple times in elementary school, then for a full year of history middle school, then a full year of history in high school. No one can forget the Alamo. They won't let you.

Disturbing trend for textbook makers....
posted by JHarris at 7:36 PM on April 5, 2010


Dairy Queens in Texas are unique simply because they are Dairy Queens in Texas. The Texas Dairy Queen Operating Council is the largest franchisee of DQ stores in the country, and operates the vast majority of DQs in Texas; basically any DQ that isn't seasonal is a TxDQOC store. That's why virtually all Texas DQs have food, and it's called Texas Country Food or something similar.
posted by fireoyster at 8:01 PM on April 5, 2010


Wow, who knew there so much Dairy Queen Love on Metafilter.

I spent a summer in Yell county, Arkansas...


HOLY SHIT YELL COUNTY IS A REAL PLACE. I NEVER WOULD HAVE GUESSED.
posted by marxchivist at 8:54 PM on April 5, 2010


There's another near us in Cheektowaga; it just started opening two/three weeks ago. This past week or so it was up in the 60s and 70s, and they had a line a block long.

The one in Harlem Road in Cleveland Hill? That's the most famous of the Buffalo-area DQs, almost all of which are seasonal and located in 1950s-era structures. (I think Niagara Falls has a few year-round Braziers.)
posted by elmwood at 8:56 PM on April 5, 2010


I recall being extremely disappointed as a child when I discovered that the Dairy Queens outside of Texas did not offer the Steak Finger Basket. I'm not sure if the Steak Finger menu item is still regionally specific or not, but Chicken Strips just don't compare.
posted by ktrey at 9:13 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I recall that -- at one time at least -- they used to put an extra step in their French-Frying; using some sort of seasoned coating. Maybe even a batter. Haven't tasted them in years. Maybe it was just a local thing. Sure miss'em. So much better than those stark white uncooked fries you get at McDonalds.
posted by RavinDave at 3:01 AM on April 6, 2010


ktrey, I have checked every Dairy Queen I have ever come across trying to find one that sold steak fingers. If I ever find one within 200 miles of here, I will be taking my husband to eat as many as he can hold. :)
posted by SuzySmith at 3:48 AM on April 6, 2010


Why did Dairy Queen get pregnant?

Because Burger King forgot to wrap his Whopper.


Nice! I also remember this one....

Why couldn't Dairy Queen get pregnant?

She married Mister Softee.
posted by orme at 7:50 AM on April 6, 2010


marxchivist, I never make up stuff that I don't have to.
posted by beelzbubba at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2010


Hey, coneheads, today is being celebrated as the 25th anniversary of The Blizzard. DQ reps are off on a 25 city tour to honor this sludge-shake (admittedly, I've never tried this teh awesome treat-diabetes made hyperselective of the diet-breakers I consume & Blizzard ≠ Beer). The Blizzardmobile set sail in Milwaukee (was Mpls busy?). I would't bother to mention this, except that they are also raising money for charity.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:00 AM on April 9, 2010


That's weird. Because we had an actual blizzard yesterday.
posted by evilcolonel at 4:59 PM on April 10, 2010


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