When you’re on a long road trip in the hot Southern sun, there’s nothing quite like the joy that washes over you when you spot a Dairy Queen at the next exit. As soon as you see that giant D and equally giant Q, you know that you’re moments away from being able to shove one of their trademark Blizzards into your mouth and finding a moment of happiness in a hectic world. When Jack "Grandpa" McCullough was helping to name DQ's soft serve empire, he said his creation was a queen among dairy products and he was right.
Dairy Queen has been a staple in the South for decades, but since you’ve probably been too busy eating their ice cream to ask about their history, here are ten things you might not know about the chain:
1. Dairy Queen Does Not Serve Ice Cream
According to the company, "Our soft-serve does not qualify to be called ice cream. To be categorized as ice cream, the minimum butterfat content must be 10 percent, and our soft-serve has only 5 percent butterfat." Since it has lower butterfat, it’s basically health food, right?
2. Soft Serve Started Here
That creamy deliciousness known as soft serve was developed in 1938 by John Fremont McCullough and his son Bradley. They sold the soft serve at the ice cream shop owned by their friend Sherb Noble in Kankakee, IL. The group eventually opened up the first Dairy Queen in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940, according to The Daily Meal. The exact recipe for Dairy Queen’s soft serve is a closely guarded secret. "[The formula] is kept in a safe deposit box and there are only a few keys to it," DQ's chief branding officer, Michael Keller, has said.
3. Texas Has More Dairy Queens Than Any Other State
Proving once again that everything is bigger in Texas, there are 600 places to get a Blizzard fix in the Lone Star State, according to The Daily Meal.
4. The "Curl" on Top of The Soft-Serve is Considered a DQ Trademark
If you’ve ever wondered how employees make such perfect curly cues on the tops of their cones, it takes a lot of practice, but is an integral part of how the company wants their ice cream given to its customers. So much so that, according to Thrillist, employees have been known to call the little ice cream curl "the Q".
5. The Blizzard Was Inspired By A St. Louis Legend
Frozen custard shop Ted Drewes has been a local St. Louis landmark since the 1930s. Their specialty was an incredibly thick milkshake known as a concrete. A teenager who frequented the shop kept asking for thicker and thicker malts, and a frustrated employee eventually turned the cup upside, proving that the milkshake was so thick it wouldn’t pour out, according to St. Louis Magazine. Soon all concretes were presented upside down. When a Dairy Queen owner heard about the gimmick, he loved it and soon Dairy Queen Blizzard’s got the upside-down treatment, too. The legend of Ted Drewes has continued at Shake Shack, which calls their milkshakes concretes, too, in homage.
WATCH: Coming Soon to a Dairy Queen Near You: Pumpkin Pie Blizzard Returns
6. What’s A “Brazier”?
If you have ever pulled up to a DQ and seen the word “Brazier” on the sign that means that you are lucky enough to have found a DQ that also serves hot food like burgers and hot dogs. For the record (and your next game of Scrabble) a “brazier” is simply another word for a charcoal grill.
7. Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban Once Worked At A Dairy Queen—Sort Of
After Cuban rudely suggested that an NBA referee shouldn’t even manage a Dairy Queen, the company took offense. Dairy Queen invited the billionaire to come on in and manage a DQ himself and—and he accepted their offer. Cuban spent two hours serving customers at a Dairy Queen in Coppell, Texas, in 2002, which was enough time for him to eat some humble pie, but not nearly long enough for him to perfect the trademark "Q" swirl at the top of the soft-serve cones.
8. There Dairy Queen Locations in 30 Countries
Ice cream loving customers in 30 countries around the world can visit Dairy Queen with locations in countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Gabon, Guyana, Cyprus, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Macau, and Taiwan. The largest Dairy Queen in the world, is a 7,500 square foot two story restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The largest in the U.S.A. is in Bloomington, Illinois, while the busiest location in the world is in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, according to Thrillist.
9. The Most Popular Blizzard Flavor in the U.S. Is Oreo
Could there be any other answer? Not in this country. In China, though, the most popular Blizzard flavor is green tea, according to Mental Floss.
10. Dairy Queen Holds Two World Records
Naturally both are ice cream related. In 2005, they entered the Guinness record books with the world’s largest Blizzard which clocked in at 8260.85 pounds. They earned the title for the biggest ice cream cake in 2011, building a ten-ton dessert out of sponge cake and vanilla ice cream and topped it with crushed Oreo cookies.