Skip to content

15 Things You Didn't Know About Dairy Queen

The fast-food chain known for its Blizzards is chock-full of fun facts you had no idea about.
dairy queen sign

Drive down any highway in the country, and you're bound to come across an exit for a Dairy Queen. The popular joint, which serves frozen treats along with hot staples like chicken fingers and burgers, has been a major player in the fast-food game since the 1950s.

But there's more to DQ than its beloved Blizzards and signature soft serve. Did you know a Dairy Queen that also served hot food used to be called a "Brazier?" Or that Dennis the Menace was the cartoon spokesman until 2001? Here are some more fun facts you may not know about Dairy Queen. And if you have a craving for a Blizzard, check out our list of Every Dairy Queen Blizzard—Ranked!


Dairy Queen was a soft-serve pioneer

hands holding three soft serve ice cream cones dairy queen
Dairy Queen/Facebook

Soft serve is available at most restaurants these days, especially fast-food establishments. But Dairy Queen was the pioneer of the ice cream trend. One of the DQ founders, John Fremont McCullough, and his son Bradley experimented with a soft frozen dairy product in 1938. They partnered with friend and ice cream shop owner Sherb Noble and began selling what is now known as soft serve on August 4, 1938. In two hours, they dished out more than 1,600 servings.

And in case you're curious, here's Why Dairy Queen Treats Aren't Technically Ice Cream.


The first Dairy Queen opened in 1940

Two years after their soft serve success, John Fremont McCullough, his son Bradley, and Sherb Noble opened the first Dairy Queen in Joliet, Illinois.

RELATED: Sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!


The first location is a landmark

vintage dairy queen sign
Steve Boice/Shutterstock

The original DQ location at 501 North Chicago Street in Joliet, Illinois is considered a landmark, even though it hasn't been a Dairy Queen since the 1950s.

RELATED: Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!


The Blizzard was introduced in 1985

dairy queen oreo blizzard

DQ is now known for its iconic Blizzard, where candy and other delicious toppings like cookies and brownies are mixed into ice cream for a decadent sweet treat. But the first Blizzard didn't hit stores until 1985. That first year, DQ sold more than 175 million of them.


Employees turn Blizzards upside-down before serving them

Dairy queen m&ms milk chocolate candy blizzard

When customers order a Blizzard at DQ, employees turn the treat upside down so you can see just how thick the Blizzard is. This trick (and the Blizzard itself) was inspired by a frozen custard shop in St. Louis called Ted Drewes, which serves thick frozen custard concretes with mix-ins.

Although this upside-down trick is mostly just for show, some locations give you a free Blizzard if an employee forgets to turn it upside down.

And if you have a soft spot for the frozen treat, here are the Best and Worst Blizzards at Dairy Queen.


The swirl on the top of the soft-serve is trademarked

dairy queen chocolate dipped ice cream cone

The swirl on top of a soft-serve cone isn't just pretty for the food photography; it's considered a DQ trademark. It's supposed to resemble a "Q," and some employees even refer to it as that.


The soft-serve recipe is top secret

dairy queen cinnamon roll shake
Courtesy of Dairy Queen

Since it was developed in 1938, the recipe for DQ's famous soft-serve has been under lock and key. Literally. "It is kept in a safe deposit box, and there are only a few keys to it," chief branding officer Michael Keller told ABC News in 2010.

RELATED: This 7-day smoothie diet will help you shed those last few pounds.


DQ also owns Orange Julius

Orange julius

The other fast-food joint known for its frozen treats (in this case fruit smoothies) is a subsidiary of Dairy Queen. Some Dairy Queens even offer Orange Julius smoothies on their menus.


There are more DQs in Texas than in any other state

dairy queen location in mall
Chanonnat Srisura/Shutterstock

Everything's bigger in Texas, including the number of Dairy Queen locations. DQ started in Illinois, but Texas is home to more Dairy Queens than any other state in America. There are currently about 600 DQs in the Lone Star state.

RELATED: Learn how to harness the power of tea to lose weight.


The largest DQ in America is in Bloomington, IL

dairy queen restaurant
Kevin Brine/Shutterstock

There's a DQ in its home state that spreads 5,000 square feet, has a 140-seat dining room, three fireplaces, and a patio. It may be the largest in the country, but the biggest DQ in the world is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Dairy Queen is in 27 countries

dairy queen blizzard and parfait

It's not just Saudi Arabia; you can find a Dairy Queen in 27 countries including Egypt, Thailand, and Costa Rica.


Mark Cuban managed a DQ in 2002

vintage dairy queen sign
Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

The billionaire businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner found himself in some hot water in 2002 when he slammed Ed Rush, the NBA's head of officiating, saying he wasn't even capable of managing a Dairy Queen. So the fast-food chain reached out to Cuban with an offer to try managing a store and he accepted. He spent two hours in a Dairy Queen in Coppell, Texas, and he had trouble creating the perfect "Q" on top of the soft serve.


The world's largest blizzard was 22 feet tall

Dairy queen blizzard
Dairy Queen/Facebook

A world record was achieved on June 21, 2005, when the World's Largest Blizzard was created in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Blizzard weighed 8,224.85 pounds and was an impressive 22 feet tall.


No Doubt was formed in a DQ

gwen stefani band no doubt vintage photo
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

The SoCal rock band was been a major staple in the '90s music scene, but they formed at a Dairy Queen in the late '80s. Eric Stefani and Greg Spence met while working at a DQ and decided to form a band together, recruiting other members to join. The rest is music history.


DQ used to serve fro-yo

dairy queen blizzard topped with whipped cream
Bhubeth Bhajanavorakul/Shutterstock

Dairy Queen tried its hand at frozen yogurt in the '90s, when the low-fat diet was all the rage. Unfortunately, customers didn't take a liking to it, and DQ pulled it from the menu.

And when you're not enjoying DQ, be sure to check out these 52 Life-Changing Kitchen Hacks That'll Make You Enjoy Cooking Again.

Filed Under