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The DQ

John W. Pinkerton


Our Dairy Queen is about three blocks from our home.  I say “our” DQ because small towns  claim ownership of their businesses.  Each time a new business is added, we feel a little richer.

Opening Day at the Dairy Queen in Joliet in 1940

I've always thought of the Dairy Queen as being a Texas thing.  Actually it originated in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938 when a father and son team who had been experimenting with a  soft ice cream product talked a friend into managing an all-you-can-eat opening of their experimental ice cream store.   Two hours after opening the doors, they had delivered 1600 servings of the new treat.  Two years later, they opened their first “permanent” Dairy Queen in Joliet which closed in the 50's but is currently a city-designated landmark.

I think there was probably a Dairy Queen back in my hometown of Pineville, Louisiana, in the late 60's.  I do recall soft ice cream being served in a nice new place on Main Street…surely that was a Dairy Queen.  Being a callow youth at the time, I don't think I fully appreciated the significance of this place, but I do recall loving their ice cream…good stuff and...it had a curl on top.

I think the reason I've always thought of the Dairy Queen as being a Texas thing goes back to my days of teaching.  I regularly followed our football and basketball teams to out-of-town games.  These road games were typically in small towns similar to the one we were from.  I quickly learned that as one approached the center of these towns, inevitably a Dairy Queen would appear, particularly where there was a crossroad.

Well, in a way, I guess the Dairy Queen is a Texas thing.  Texas has more Dairy Queen locations than any other state, over 600, 10% of their total of over 6000 in the US, Canada and 24 other countries.

Linda and I have friends who live about twenty-five miles from us in a much larger town, Bryan-College Station, who when they visit us prefer to eat at the Dairy Queen.  Now, we have other eateries; one serves Mexican food and the other serves seafood, steaks, gumbo, and, of course, hamburgers.  They're both excellent, but our friends prefer the Dairy Queen.  Perhaps they consider this slumming.

I find this unlikely.  I suspect the reason they prefer the Dairy Queen is that it's not pretentious:  the atmosphere is basic---big plate glass windows which allow the customers to see in and out.  You can always see how many folks are there and if you know any of them.   A Dairy Queen  is typically very clean.  If it's not, you've stumbled into a Dairy Queen look alike.  The service, often provided by high school students, is friendly if not always the most efficient…after all, they are high school age.  One of the young people will bring your order to you, and you, when you've finished the meal, are expected to throw whatever is left in the trash container and place the empty trays atop the receptacle. 

Dairy Queens are simple, clean, and well lit…kind of like Texas itself.

Who frequents Dairy Queens?  Hungry folks who aren't looking for an “experience,” folks who just want a square meal or a good treat.  We usually just call an order in and drive to the pick up window a few minutes later where a pleasant fellow Texan takes our payment and delivers our food with more catchup packets and napkins than we can possibly use.  Pretty often the order is screwed up which we don’t discover until we’re back home, but that's okay.  We never take anything back.  We enjoy a little surprise occasionally, and all of the food is good.

In addition to providing food, our Dairy Queen serves as a social center for our older folks.  They meet there to share the latest news and drink coffee or sodas or get a snack, but mostly to socialize.  Unlike Starbucks, I don't believe anyone has been chased out of a Dairy Queen for “loitering.”  In Texas it's not “loitering”: it's socializing, thank you very much.

The Dairy Queens all over the world still serve their soft ice creams with swirls on top, but through the years, they've added to the menu: Hungr-Buster, Hungr-Buster Jr.,  The Dude (Chick'n Fried Steak Sandwich), Grilled Chick'n Salad and Crispy Chick'n Salad, Steak Finger Country Basket, Texas T-Grand Tacos, Nachos Deluxe, Beef Taco Salad, Grilled Chick'n Taco Salad, and, of course, malts and shakes sundaes, and soft drinks.  There are other items on the menu, but its pretty simple.   Hmm...I wonder if  DQs in other states and countries serve a Tex-Mex menu.  Anyway, if you can't find something good to eat there, you ain't hungry.

Apparently the local franchise owners have some leeway  in what they're allowed to serve.  Our local DQ was serving chicken-and-dumplins for a while.  Chicken-and-dumplins ain’t the easiest dish to prepare, but their dumplins are great.

Usually when I write an essay I have an interesting or funny personal story to relate…something to juice up the effort, but after giving it much thought, I can't come come up with a single strange or unusual event that I have witnessed at our Dairy Queen.  I guess I shouldn't be greedy: good food and good friends should be enough.

Oh, by the way, for a time our Dairy Queen was under unprovoked attacks by various motor vehicles.  Fortunately, this seems to have settled down a bit.

Why Do Folks Hate

Our Dairy Queen?

            Why do folks hate our Dairy Queen? 

            Folks be treatin' it---down right mean. 

            The fries and burgers are  a treat, 

            A place for young and old to meet. 

            The first attack was  a surprise 

            The second made us realize 

            Some folks just hate our Dairy Queen 

            Of the eatery they're not keen. 

            First car attack just broke the glass 

            Which all in all was pretty crass

The second attack  drove through the place                    

            Like Richard Petty in a race  .

            Booths and tables flew everywhere. 

            For safety sake there was no care.    

            But all soon was put back in place

            Again a normal eatin’ space. 

            First we thought these were accidents 

            Then along came another gent 

            Big rig---drive-thru overhang---

            Demolished it with quite a  bang. 

            Against our palace ya'll do scheme,

            You haters of our Dairy Queen.

            Your attitude is just obscene--- 

            Alas, haters hate it does seem.