Frozen treats has been around and enjoyed for centuries, but the soft-serve concept wasn’t developed until 1938 by Iowa-born John Fremont McCullough and his son Alex. Together they convinced a friend, Sherb Noble, to offer the innovative product in his ice cream store in Kankakee, Illinois, a small town south of Chicago. On the first day of sales, to everyone’s surprise, Noble dished out greater than 1,600 servings of the new dessert within two hours. (Looks like it was a hit.) Knowing they were onto something big, Noble and also the McCulloughs went on to open the very first dq menu a couple of years later in Joliet, Illinois, placing Mr. Noble at the helm (who better) which opened for business on June 22, perfect timing for the long, hot summer. Even if this original site has not been in operation since the 1950s, the building still stands as a designated landmark, hearkening back to simpler times for Boomers who go by.
For decades, Dairy Queens were and they are a fixture of self confidence in small towns of the Midwest and South and through the 70s, maintaining the days (as well as the competition), most DQs added fast food, including sausages, hamburgers and fries, talking about their newest menu items as “Brazier.” Although a couple of shops are only open in the summer, most stay open year-round. All things considered, why consume frozen treats just seasonally except if you are now living in North Dakota? The greatest store is found in Bloomington, IL, home of any state university, Busiest honors head to Prince Edward Island, Canada (go figure). In 2014, Dairy Queen listed over 6,400 stores in than 25 countries (75% of which will be in the U.S.). For decades, the old adage boasted every Texas town had a DQ. While no more literally true as small-town America dwindles, the greatest concentration continues to be inside the Lone Star State.
All DQs now provide the Orange Julius drink, a brandname that they can acquired in 1987, and several shops may be found in food courts and shopping centers nationwide. DQ actually has two official fan clubs: Blizzard and Orange Julius. Blizzard fans, over 4 million strong, place their choices seriously, with many different ingredients and mix-ins available. DQ even offers specialty ice cream cakes, with their traditional choice of soft-serve treats, cone dippings and toppings.
Across the country, many single-unit mom and pop stands took notice and exposed on Memorial Day catering to the neighborhood children, with walk-up stands, often calling themselves “frozen custard.” Nobody cared just what the name was, Dairy Queen restaurant meant vanilla and chocolate creamy cones and cups, maybe a few picnic tables to linger at, and an after-dinner treat within walking distance of home. Local kids looked to their short but sweet hours, which sadly closed after Labor Day. Simple names like Al’s, Bert’s or Tastee Treat started yfewqe show up on busy corners and kids rode their bikes eagerly anticipating what awaited them, having a dime or even a quarter stashed within their pocket. Rarely did these stands offer a lot more than the 2 basic flavors, however, if one was lucky, there could be a strawberry flavor as well (oh, boy). (Author’s note: her local soft-serve stand featured green mint, which had been on the top, particularly with hot fudge.)
Minor competitors like Tastee-Freez and Fosters Freeze both started in California within the 1950s and also have lower than 50 locations each but still thrive with a cadre of loyal customers.
So who may be up for many soft-serve? Any season it hits the spot. If you don’t have shops close to you, maybe a frozen yogurt, nevertheless it won’t function as the same. Check your local shopping mall and you just might luck out. And don’t worry: mom was wrong, it won’t spoil your dinner.