Dairy Queen

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This article is about the fast food chain. For the Catherine Gilbert Murdock novel, see Dairy Queen (novel).
Dairy Queen
Wholly owned subsidiary
Industry Restaurant
Genre Fast food
Founded June 22, 1940 (1940-06-22)
San Juan, Texas, U.S.
Founder John Fremont McCullough[1]
Headquarters Edina, Minnesota, U.S.
Number of locations
4,800 (US Domestic, 2014)[2]
Area served
Key people
Warren Buffett
Clayton Lundine
John Gainor (CEO)
Troy Bader (COO)
Mark Vinton (CFO)
Barry Westrum (EVP Marketing)
Products Soft serve, fast food, ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, french fries, soft drinks, salads
Revenue US$2.5 billion (2008)[3]
Number of employees
20,362 (2008)
Parent Berkshire Hathaway
Subsidiaries Orange Julius
Slogan Fan Food, Not Fast Food
Website http://www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/
Footnotes / references

Dairy Queen, often abbreviated DQ, is a chain of soft serve ice cream and fast food restaurants owned by International Dairy Queen, Inc, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. It also owns Orange Julius and Karmelkorn.[5] The first restaurant was located in Joliet, Illinois. It was operated by Sherb Noble and opened for business on June 22, 1940.[6] It serves a variety of frozen products, such as soft serve ice cream.[7] The company's corporate offices are located in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota.[8][9]


The soft-serve formula was first developed in 1938 by John Fremont (J.F.) "Grandpa" McCullough (1871‒1963), and his son Alex. They convinced friend and loyal customer Sherb Noble to offer the product in his ice cream store in Kankakee, Illinois.[10] On the first day of sales, Noble dished out more than 1,600 servings of the new dessert within two hours.[11] Noble and the McCulloughs went on to open the first Dairy Queen store in 1940 in Joliet, Illinois. While this Dairy Queen has not been in operation since the 1950s, the building still stands at 501 N Chicago St. as a city-designated landmark.[12] Since 1940, the chain has used a franchise system to expand its operations globally. The state with the most Dairy Queen restaurants is Texas. The Texas Dairy Queen Operators' Council facilitates marketing and the food system in Texas. Dairy Queen International is the parent company of Dairy Queen. In the United States, it operates under American Dairy Queen.[13][14] IDQ is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. At the end of its fiscal year 2014, Dairy Queen reported over 6,400 stores in more than 25 countries; about 4,500 of its stores (approximately 70%) were located in the United States.[13][14][15]

DQ was an early pioneer of food franchising, expanding its 10 stores in 1941 to 100 by 1947, 1,446 in 1950, and 2,600 in 1955. The first store in Canada opened in Melville, Saskatchewan, in 1953.[16] The red Dairy Queen symbol was introduced in 1959. The company became International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) in 1962. In 1987, IDQ bought the Orange Julius chain. IDQ was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 1998. Dairy Queens were a fixture of social life in small towns of the Midwestern and Southern United States during the 1950s and 1960s. In that role, they have often come to be referenced as a symbol of life in small-town America, as in Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at Sixty and Beyond by Larry McMurtry, Dairy Queen Days by Robert Inman, and Chevrolet Summers, Dairy Queen Nights by Bob Greene.

In 2012, all Dairy Queen stores began selling Orange Julius drinks.


A Dairy Queen restaurant in Meriden, Connecticut, United States

The company's stores are operated under several brands, all bearing the distinctive Dairy Queen logo and carrying the company's signature soft-serve ice cream (along with the trademark "curl"). In the 1970s, most restaurants were "Brazier" locations with a second floor for storage, recognizable for their red mansard roofs.

As of the end of 2014, Dairy Queen had more than 6,400 stores in 27 countries, including more than 1,400 locations outside the United States and Canada.[17]

The largest Dairy Queen in the United States is located in Bloomington, Illinois.[18] The busiest store in the United States is in Rosedale, Maryland.[19] The largest store in the world was built in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[20] The busiest store in the world is located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.[19]

Standard stores[edit]

A Dairy Queen store in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

While some stores serve a very abbreviated menu primarily featuring DQ frozen treats and may be open only during spring and summer; the majority of DQ restaurants also serve hot food and are open all year.

So-called "Limited Brazier" locations may additionally offer hot dogs, barbecue beef (or pork) sandwiches, and in some cases french fries and chicken, but not hamburgers. Dairy Queen Full Brazier restaurants serve a normal fast-food menu featuring burgers, french fries, and grilled and crispy chicken in addition to frozen treats and hot dogs.

DQ / Orange Julius[edit]

Also known as the "Treat Center" concept, an enhanced version of the original stores also serves drinks and foods from the Orange Julius menu. This was the company's preferred concept for new, small-scale locations, primarily in shopping mall food courts. Some early Treat Centers also included Karmelkorn. Since 2012, all Dairy Queen locations feature Orange Julius drinks.[21]

Dairy Queen Brazier[edit]

A Dairy Queen Brazier in Edmonton, Alberta

The name "Brazier" originated in 1957 when one of the company's franchisees, Jim Cruikshank, set out to develop the standardized food system. When he witnessed flames rising from an open charcoal grill in a New York eatery, he knew he had found the Brazier concept.

The "Brazier" name has been slowly phased out of signage and advertising since 1993, although it has not been removed from all existing signage. Since the early 2000s, new or renovated locations which are similar to Brazier restaurants in terms of size and menu selection, but have been updated with the current logo and/or exterior, usually carry the name "DQ Restaurant", although the website's Store Locator still lists the non-G&C stores as "Dairy Queen Brazier" and the smaller stores "Dairy Queen Ltd Brazier".

However, the company website still considers their burger and hot dog lines as "Brazier Foods", according to the History section and some FAQ listed topics in the website.

DQ Grill & Chill[edit]

DQ Grill & Chill locations feature hot food, treats, table delivery and self-serve soft drinks. It is the new concept for new and renovated full-service restaurants. Stores are larger than older-style locations and feature a completely new store design. In most cases, they offer an expanded menu including breakfast, GrillBurgers, and grilled sandwiches, as well as limited table service (customers still place orders at the counter). They also contain self-serve soft drink fountains. Some of the older stores have upgraded to the new format. However, there are still older stores and stores that have not upgraded to the new format. In December 2001, Chattanooga, Tennessee was the site of the first two Dairy Queen Grill and Chill restaurants in the United States.[22][23][24] The nation's largest DQ Grill & Chill is located in Bloomington, Illinois.[25]

Texas Country Foods[edit]

A Dairy Queen outlet in Burnet in the Texas Hill Country, using the chain's previous logo.

Most locations in Texas, including those which otherwise resemble the Brazier or DQ Grill & Chill formats, use a separate hot food menu branded as Texas Country Foods. Among other differences, "Hungr-Buster" burgers are available in place of the Brazier and GrillBurger offerings. Other food offerings not found outside Texas include the "Dude" country-fried steak sandwich, steak finger country baskets, T-Brand tacos, and a one-half pound double meat hamburger, the "BeltBuster.".

Texas is home to the largest number of Dairy Queens in the U.S. All Texas Dairy Queen restaurants are owned and operated by franchisees. The Texas Dairy Queen Operators' Council (TDQOC) runs a separate marketing website from the national website. Bob Phillips, host of the popular Texas syndicated television series Texas Country Reporter, was for many years the DQ spokesman in Texas, as the restaurant was a co-sponsor of the program at the time.


The company's products expanded to include malts and milkshakes in 1949, banana splits in 1951, Dilly Bars in 1955, Mr. Misty slush treats in 1961 (later renamed Misty Slush, then again to Arctic Rush), Jets, Curly Tops, Freezes in 1965, and a range of hamburgers and other cooked foods under the Brazier banner in 1958. In 1971 the Peanut Buster Parfait, consisting of peanuts, hot fudge, and vanilla soft serve, was introduced. Other items include sundaes and the blended coffee drink, the MooLatte.

The majority of Dairy Queen locations serve Coca-Cola products, but unlike most other restaurants such contracts are not mandated onto the franchisee, and as a result some locations serve Pepsi products instead. Wendy's (until 1998), Subway (until 2003), Arby's (until 2006), IHOP (until 2012), and Applebee's (until 2012) also allowed such leniency on beverage choice before signing exclusive soft drink deals with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, making Dairy Queen the last major restaurant chain without an exclusive soft drink contract.[citation needed]


A woman holding a Dairy Queen Blizzard

A popular Dairy Queen item is the Blizzard, which is soft-serve mechanically blended with mix-in ingredients such as sundae toppings and/or pieces of cookies, brownies, or candy. It has been a staple on the menu since its introduction in 1985, a year in which Dairy Queen sold more than 100 million Blizzards.[26] Popular Blizzard flavors include Oreo Cookies, mint Oreo, chocolate chip cookie dough, M&M's (mini-M&M's in Canada), Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, Heath Bar, and Butterfinger. Seasonal flavors are also available such as October's Pumpkin Pie.[27] It has been argued that Dairy Queen drew its inspiration from the concrete served by the St. Louis based Ted Drewes.[28] On July 26, 2010, Dairy Queen introduced a new "mini" size Blizzard, served in 6 oz. cups.

Prior to the introduction of the Blizzard in 1985, Dairy Queen served conventional "thick" milk shakes, in traditional flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, with or without added malt on request.

In addition, Dairy Queen offers a Blizzard Cake in flavors such as strawberry cheesecake and Reese's. Much like the restaurant's conventional ice cream cake, this variation is aimed toward celebrations and birthdays.[29]

Frozen yogurt[edit]

In 1990, Dairy Queen began offering frozen yogurt as a lower-calorie alternative to its soft serve ice cream. According to a company representative, Dairy Queen's regular soft serve has 35 calories per ounce and is 95% fat free, whereas the frozen yogurt was 25 calories per ounce. However, in 2001, the company phased out the frozen yogurt option in all its stores citing a lack of demand.[30][31]

In 2010, International Dairy Queen Inc filed a request for a preliminary injunction to stop Yogubliz Inc, a small California-based frozen yogurt chain, from selling "Blizzberry" and "Blizz Frozen Yogurt", alleging that the names could confuse consumers due to their similarity to Dairy Queen's Blizzard. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner denied Dairy Queen's request.[32]


For many years the franchise's slogan was "We treat you right." During the early and mid 1990s, the slogan "Hot Eats, Cool Treats" came into use and preceded the aforementioned line in the Dairy Queen jingle. In recent years, it has been changed to "DQ: Something Different." A recent tagline, featured in early 2011, was "So Good It's RiDQulous,"[33] with Dairy Queen's current logo infused in the word 'ridiculous'. Now, their new tagline reads, "Fan Food, not Fast Food".[34]

In Texas, at the end of advertisements, frequently there is a Texas flag waving, and the new DQ logo and slogan below saying, "The Texas Stop Sign", though the jingle uses "This is where we stop in Texas." Previous slogans included "That's what I like about Texas", "For Hot Eats & Cool Treats, Think DQ", "Nobody beats DQ Treats & Eats", "DQ is Value Country", and "This is DQ Country". These advertisements featured Texas Country Reporter host Bob Phillips as spokesperson, since his program was mainly sponsored by Dairy Queen.

Dennis the Menace and other characters from the comic strip appeared in Dairy Queen marketing as a spokestoon from 1971 until December of 2002, when he was dropped because Dairy Queen felt children could no longer relate to him.[35][36]

The advertising focused on a mouth with a tongue licking its large lips, which morphs into the present Dairy Queen logo. This was removed in 2013.

In 2011, Grey New York produced outlandish spots featuring a dapper man, played by John Behlmann, sporting a moustache, performing crazy feats for Dairy Queen. After announcing tasty menu offers, he would do something outrageous, like blow bubbles with kittens in them, water ski while boxing, and break a piñata where Olympic gymnastics great Mary Lou Retton tumbles out. Later, the same firm made additional commercials based around odd situation titles, which had the DQ logo placed somewhere in them, like Gary DQlones Himself, Now That's A Lunchtime DQuandary! and After The DQonquest. All were narrated by a man with an English accent.

In 2015 Dairy Queen and model railroad company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wm. K. Walthers came out with a Walthers Cornerstone HO 1:87 Scale models of a restaurant — one from the 1950s with the original logo and one from 2007-present with current logo. The models are both officially licensed replica of Dairy Queen.


The original retro-style neon sign with a cone, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The original Dairy Queen logo was simply a stylized text sign with a soft serve cone at one end. In the late 1950s, the widely recognized red ellipse design was adopted. The initial shape was asymmetrical, with one of the side points having a greater extension than the other, especially when matched with the Brazier sign—a similarly sized yellow ovoid, tucked diagonally below its companion. By the 1970s, both sides were more closely matched, becoming symmetrical with the 2006 update (see online images for comparison). Some of the new 1950s signs continued to display a soft serve cone jutting from the right side. "Little Miss Dairy Queen" began appearing in Pennsylvania signage in 1961.[37] She had a Dutch bonnet, resembling the ellipse logo, with a pinafore apron over her dress and wooden shoes. A yellow trapezoid Brazier sign, placed below the red Dairy Queen logo, was developed in the late 1960s. It matched the roofline of the new store design of the era.

Although it had been used interchangeably with the Dairy Queen name for many decades, "DQ" became the company's official name in 2001. The font remained the same as in the original signage introduced 60 years prior. Throughout this period, the company placed the registered mark symbol immediately to the right, on the bottom side of the logo. When the company modernized its signage and logos in late 2006, it modified the font and italicized the letters, as well as adding arced lines, an orange one to represent its hot foods above and a blue one below to represent its ice cream products.[38] Additionally, in the new design the registered mark symbol was moved to be adjacent to the letter "Q".[39] The first overhaul of its logo in almost 70 years, the company claimed that the new logo would show brand growth and reflect the "fun and enjoyment" associated with its products.[38] Advertising industry observers have noted that the new logo was an unneeded update of known and trusted industry brand and that its new features were distracting.[39][40]

The original signage is still in use in older locations or in locations that use a "retro" design motif in the property's design. One example is the sign used at the Dairy Queen in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Global locations[edit]

Countries currently with Dairy Queen locations:

Countries formerly with Dairy Queen locations:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Fremont "Grandpa" McCullough at Find a Grave
  2. ^ "Dairy Queen CEO: Paying Workers A ‘Fair Wage’ Helps Us via Think Progress". 
  3. ^ Niemela, Jennifer (14 April 2009). "DQ’s Q1 same-store sales up 5%". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Berkshire Hathaway - 2008 Annual Report" (PDF). Berkshire Hathaway. 2008. 
  5. ^ "Karmelkorn gourmet popcorn and popcorn gifts". karmelkorn.com. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "FAQ". Dairy Queen. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  7. ^ DairyQueen.com page: "History of Dairy Queen, IDQ."
  8. ^ "Corporate Offices." Dairy Queen. Retrieved on May 12, 2010. "International Dairy Queen Corporation 7505 Metro Blvd. Minneapolis, MN 55439-0286"
  9. ^ "Street Map." City of Edina. Retrieved on May 12, 2010.
  10. ^ "History". noblestores.com. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "theDQteam.com". thedqteam.com. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "From Queen of Dairies to King of Kings". Chicago Tribune. 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  13. ^ a b Hoovers.com. "International Dairy Queen". Hoovers.com. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  14. ^ a b Hoovers.com. "American Dairy Queen". Hoovers.com. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  15. ^ Hoovers.com. "Berkshire Hathaway". Hoovers.com. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  16. ^ Dairy Queen FAQs dairyqueen.com. Retrieved July 30, 2011
  17. ^ Stempel, Jonathan (9 February 2010). "Buffett's Dairy Queen to expand into Egypt, Macau". Reuters. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  18. ^ Hansen, Karen (2009-12-21). "Nation's largest Dairy Queen Grill & Chill set for B-N". Bloomington Pantagraph. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  19. ^ a b "Popular Chains' Busiest Locations". Dailyfinance.com. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  20. ^ "World’s Largest Dairy Queen Opens in Riyadh". U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  21. ^ Marjorie Eberts. Opportunities in Fast Food Careers. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  22. ^ "History of Dairy Queen". Dairy Queen. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  23. ^ Mills, Karren (July 14, 2002). "Dairy Queen trying improved restaurants". Cincinnati Enquirer Online. Retrieved June 11, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Dairy Queen opens new Grill & Chill concept in Simpsonville (Ky.)". Business First. December 18, 2006. Retrieved June 11, 2012. 
  25. ^ http://centralillinoisproud.com/fulltext/?nxd_id=115545
  26. ^ DQ publication. "A Story of Sweet Success". Dairy Queen International. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  27. ^ DQ Advertisement (2007-11-01). "Blizzard of the Month". Dairy Queen of America. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  28. ^ Reed, Bill (2005-04-15). "Blizzard approximates St. Louis original concrete". The Gazette. 
  29. ^ The Blizzard Fan Club. "DQ Blizzard Fan Club: History of the Blizzard". Dairy Queen International. Archived from the original on May 9, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  30. ^ "Dairy Queen". Dairy Queen. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  31. ^ AllBusiness.com: "Dairy Queen phasing out frozen yogurt"
  32. ^ "Buffett's Dairy Queen loses frozen yogurt ruling". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  33. ^ Elliott, Stuart (2011-03-03). "Concerns Remain for Dining Chains - Advertising". The New York Times. 
  34. ^ "Dairy Queen. Fan Food not Fast Food™. Treats, Food, Drinks & more". Dairy Queen. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  35. ^ "FAQ". Dairy Queen. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  36. ^ Kirbyson, Geoff (2004). DQ Blended. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  37. ^ Dairy Queen Blog - The Memorabilia Photos
  38. ^ a b "Dairy Queen overhauls logo for more modern look". Nation's Restaurant News (BNet.com). 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  39. ^ a b "Dreary Queen". Brand New. UnderConsideration.com. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  40. ^ Cohen, David (2007-03-01). "Doritos Queen - a dairy queen disaster". idfive.com. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  41. ^ "The Dairy Queen® System Expands Global Footprint - Business Wire". businesswire.com. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Miglani, Bob (2006). Treat Your Customers: Thirty Lessons on Service and Sales That I Learned at My Family's Dairy Queen Store. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1-4013-8434-X. OCLC 76878287. 

External links[edit]