American Dairy Queen Corporation is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. DQ® operators have been providing consumers with crave-satisfying treats and food since 1940.
The founders of the Dairy Queen® system were men and women who introduced a new kind of dessert treat and, in the process, developed the foundation of the franchising industry. The history of the DQ® system is a story of a unique product that created an industry.
A Story of Sweet Success
For more than 70 years, the DQ® system’s recipe for success has been simple. It’s been a combination of hardworking people who own and operate restaurants, and great-tasting food and tempting treats served in our establishments.
Our phenomenal story began with the 10-cent sale of a then unnamed product on August 4, 1938, in Kankakee, Illinois. A father and son partnership in Green River, Illinois, had been experimenting with a soft frozen dairy product for some time. They contacted Sherb Noble, a good friend and customer, who agreed to run the “all you can eat” trial sale at his walk-in ice cream store. Within two hours, he dished out more than 1,600 servings of the new dessert.
Back then, food franchising was all but unheard of, but the new product’s potential made it a natural for such a system. When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, there were fewer than 10 Dairy Queen® stores. However, shortly after the war, the system took off at a pace virtually unrivaled before or since. With only 100 stores in 1947, it grew to 1,446 in 1950 and then to 2,600 in 1955. Today, the DQ® system is one of the largest fast food systems in the world, with more than 6,000 restaurants in the United States, Canada and 18 other countries.
Although much has changed in the world and in the DQ® system through the years, one constant has remained: DQ® restaurants are still, and always have been, the place to find kids’ sports teams celebrating a victory, business people on their lunch break and families taking time out to enjoy great food and soft serve treats. And success for the DQ® system is as simple today as it was in 1940. Satisfied customers lead to successful restaurants. Each owner of our independently owned and operated establishments worldwide is committed to nothing less than the “Fan Food not Fast FoodTM“ slogan.
Highlights of the DQ® system include:
- 1940: First Dairy Queen® store opens in Joliet, Illinois.
- 1949: DQ® introduces malts and shakes.
- 1951: Banana splits appear on the menu.
- 1953: First DQ® store opens in Canada.
- 1955: The Dilly® Bar debuts.
- 1957: The Dairy Queen®/Brazier® concept is introduced.
- 1958: The Dairy Queen®/Brazier® food products are introduced.
- 1961: The Mr. Misty® slush treat cools throats in the warm South.
- 1962: International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) is formed.
- 1965: First national radio advertising sends DQ® message 169 million times a week.
- 1966: First national TV commercial, “Live a Little,” is aired.
- 1968: The Buster Bar® Treat bursts forth.
- 1972: First DQ® store opens in Japan.
- 1973: Say the word “Scrumpdillyishus®!” and get a Peanut Buster® Parfait for 49 cents.
- 1979: The DQ® system debuts in the Middle East.
- 1980: “We Treat You Right®” tagline debuts.
- 1985: More than 175 million Blizzard® Treats sold in its first year.
- 1989: Dairy Queen® ranked America’s number one treat chain.
- 1991: First DQ® store opens in Mexico.
- 1995: DQ® Treatzza Pizza® and the Chicken Strip Basket make their debut.
- 1999: Pecan Mudslide® Treat is introduced.
- 1999: An operator of several DQ® locations in Massachusetts builds the world’s largest blended treat, weighing in at 5,316.6 pounds.
- 2001: Crispy Chicken Salad is introduced.
- 2001: The first DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant opens in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- 2002: Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, becomes manager of a DQ® location in Texas for the day.
- 2003: The Blizzard® of the Month program kicks off.
- 2004: The MooLatte® Frozen Coffee Flavored Beverage line debuts in Mocha, Vanilla and Caramel flavors.
- 2004: Award-winning Dairy Queen® commercials can be seen throughout the country in the system’s first full year of national advertising.
- 2005: GrillBurgers™ are introduced to consumers on national TV.
- 2005: The record is broken on June 21, when a new World’s Largest Blizzard® Treat is built in Springfield, Massachusetts. It weighs 8,224.85 pounds and is 22 feet tall.
CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK HOSPITALS
Dairy Queen® loves kids. Whether its kids’ sports teams celebrating at our restaurants after games, children enjoying dinner with their parents or teenagers visiting for cool treats at the end of a date, DQ® and kids go hand in hand. And if these cherished youngsters ever become sick or injured, we want to help assure they have the best medical care available.
That’s why the DQ® system has been a proud national sponsor of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals) since 1984. During the past 30 years, DQ® operators throughout the United States and Canada have raised more than $100 million for CMN Hospitals. From collecting customers’ pocket change to selling paper Miracle Balloons and holding special events like Miracle Treat Day, our support enables us to give something back to the communities in which we do business.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to generating funds and awareness programs to benefit kids treated at 170 children’s hospitals throughout North America. CMN Hospitals raises funds through innovative cause-marketing promotions and other programs developed to meet the business objectives of its sponsors. CMN Hospitals’ hallmark is that 100 percent of locally generated donations stay in the community to benefit kids treated at the local CMN Hospital.
CMN Hospitals represent the premier pediatric healthcare facilities in their respective communities, treating children of all afflictions, including cancer, birth defects, accidents and muscular and cardiovascular diseases. These facilities, which provide care based on filling the needs of families rather than on their ability to pay, treat more than 17 million kids each year.
DQ® and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals are a perfect fit.
DQ® CARES PRODUCT GRANT PROGRAM
In 2016 our Corporate Giving Program will provide DQ® product (Dilly® Bars) to Minnesota-based 501(c)3 organizations that help kids and families who need it most in the Twin Cities.
Applications will be accepted between January 30th, 2016 and December 16, 2016. Product award or decline notifications will be sent out within two weeks of application receipt.
All questions about DQ Corporate Giving Program should be directed to DQ® Fan Relations at (866) 793-7582.
DQ® Cares Product Grant can be found below:
LOCAL COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
Note: Due to the fact that our locations are individually owned and operated, these programs are at the discretion of the operator. Contact your local DQ® restaurant for specific details.
To encourage students to continually strive for excellence, Dairy Queen® operators often establish reward initiatives featuring free hot food or soft-serve products. A few such efforts, which can run on either a quarter or semester basis, include:
Dairy Queen® Restaurant Tours
Schools are always looking for educational field trip ideas. Many DQ® operators offer tours of their restaurant to kids in grades 1-4. Students who visit learn how the facility operates and the importance of cleanliness and hard work. They receive a guided tour through each area of the restaurant and the machinery is usually explained in language they can easily understand. At the end of the tour, each student learns how to make their own DQ® cone, and then enjoy eating it.
Dairy Queen® operators don’t forget about the older kids in their area. Recognizing that high school and college students are typically low on cash, they often provide discount cards or create affordable Student Meal Deals.
Upon request, many Dairy Queen® operators often provide frozen cakes or other products for school activities. Whether it’s a class project, high school prom or graduation party, we are happy to help make any student event more special.
What’s Happening in Your Community?
The aforementioned ideas are just a few of the many programs Dairy Queen® operators implement to partner with local schools and colleges. Contact your local Dairy Queen® operator regarding any of their existing school programs or to discuss potential partnership opportunities.