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Dairy Queen, often abbreviated to DQ, is a international chain of soft serve and fast food restaurants. The name is taken from the name of their soft serve product which the company refers to as "Dairy Queen" or "DQ".


The soft serve formula was first developed in 1938 by J.F. “Grandpa” McCullough and his son Alex McCullough. Co-owned with Herb Noble, they went on to open the first Dairy Queen store in 1940 in Joliet, Illinoismarker. While the Dairy Queen is no longer in operation, the building is still located at 501 N Chicago St. Since 1940 DQ has used a franchise system to expand its operations globally. Its largest franchise is the Texas Dairy Queen Operating Council which runs the majority of DQ locations in the state of Texasmarker. Dairy Queen International is the parent company of Dairy Queen. In the US it operates under the American Dairy Queen title. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. At the end of its fiscal year 2006, Dairy Queen reported over 5,600 stores in more than a dozen countries; about 4,600 of its stores (or approximately 85%) were located within the United Statesmarker.

DQ was an early pioneer of food franchising, with the 10 stores in 1941 expanding to 100 by 1947, 1,446 in 1950, and 2,600 in 1955. The first store in Canada opened in Melville, Saskatchewanmarker in 1953. The present Dairy Queen logo was introduced in 1959. The company became "International Dairy Queen, Inc." (IDQ) in 1962. It was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 1998. Dairy Queens were a fixture of social life in small towns of the Midwestern and Southern United States during the 1950s and 1960s. In that role they have often come to be referenced as a symbol of life in small-town America, as for instance in Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at Sixty and Beyond by Larry McMurtry, Dairy Queen Days by Robert Inman, and Chevrolet Summers, Dairy Queen Nights by Bob Greene. Some of the popular items on the Texas menu include the Hunger-Buster and Belt-Buster hamburgers. Bob Phillips, host of the popular Texas syndicated television series Texas Country Reporter, was for many years the DQ spokesman in Texas. Dairy Queen appears in many small Texas towns, such as Bairdmarker, Devinemarker, Jacksboromarker, and Hamiltonmarker, and in advertising calls its logo "The Texas Stop Sign."


With 5,700 restaurants in 22 countries as of 2005, Dairy Queen is one of the largest soft serve franchises in the world, their main competition include: Baskin-Robbins, Braum's, Carvel, Culver's, Foster's Freeze, Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard, McDonald's, Sonic Drive-In, Tastee Freez, and TCBY. The Busiest Dairy Queen is found in Charlottetownmarker, Prince Edward Islandmarker.


The company's stores are operated under several brands, all bearing the distinctive Dairy Queen logo and carrying the company's signature soft-serve ice cream (along with the trademark "curl"). Until the 1980s, most Dairy Queen stores were recognizable for their red gambrel-shaped roofs.

Dairy Queen

Stores which serve a very abbreviated menu primarily feature DQ frozen treats. These locations may be open only during spring and summer; many year-round locations are located in shopping malls.

So-called "Limited Brazier" locations may additionally offer hot dogs, barbecue beef (or pork) sandwiches, and in some cases french fries and chicken, but not hamburgers.

The largest Dairy Queen restaurant is in Portland, Texasmarker.

DQ / Orange Julius

Also known as the "Treat Center" concept, an enhanced version of the original DQ also serves drinks and foods from the Orange Julius menu. This is the company's preferred concept for new, small-scale locations.

Dairy Queen Brazier

Stores serve a normal fast-food menu featuring burgers, french fries, and processed fried chicken products in addition to frozen treats and hot dogs. Due to the protracted rollout of the Grill & Chill concept, Brazier restaurants have been allowed to sell certain products originally restricted to G&C, including GrillBurgers.

The "Brazier" name has been slowly phased out of signage and advertising since 1993, although until recently it had not been removed from existing signage. Since the early 2000s, new or renovated locations which are similar to Brazier restaurants in terms of size and menu selection, but have been updated with the current DQ logo and/or exterior, usually carry the name "DQ Restaurant".

DQ Grill & Chill

This is DQ's preferred concept for new and renovated full-service restaurants. Stores are larger than older-style DQ Brazier locations and feature a completely new store design. In most cases, they offer an expanded menu including breakfast, GrillBurgers, and grilled sandwiches, as well as limited table service (customers still place orders at the counter).

Texas Country Foods

Most locations in Texas, including those which otherwise resemble the Brazier or Grill & Chill formats, use a separate menu branded as Texas Country Foods. Among other differences, "Hunger-Buster" burgers are available in place of the Brazier and GrillBurger offerings.

The Texas Dairy Queen Operating Council is the largest of all Dairy Queen franchises. Texas is home to the largest number of Dairy Queens in the U.S. The TXDQOC runs a separate marketing website from the national website, located at


The company's products expanded to include malts and milkshakes in 1949, banana splits in 1951, Dilly Bars in 1955 (they had lime), Mr. Misty slush treats in 1961 (later renamed Misty Slush, then again to Arctic Rush), and a range of hamburgers and other cooked foods under the Brazier banner in 1958. Then in 1967 the ever popular, Peanuts Buster Parfait, made of peanuts, hot fudge, and vanilla soft serve. Other popular items include sundaes and the blended coffee drink, the MooLatte, controversial because of its resemblance to the racial descriptor Mulatto.

Dairy Queen's one hundred (as of 1997) Japanese stores offered hamburgers, but competition from McDonald's made the chain switch to pita sandwiches.

The majority of Dairy Queen locations serve Pepsi products, but unlike most other restaurants such contracts are not mandated onto the franchisee, and as a result some locations serve Coca-Cola products instead. Subway (until 2003) and Arby's (until 2006) also allowed such leniency on beverage choice before signing exclusive soft drink deals with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, respectively, making Dairy Queen the last major restaurant chain without an exclusive soft drink contract.

That said, the current preference for Pepsi products at DQ is in conflict with its parent company's large interest in The Coca-Cola Company. Berkshire Hathaway is one of Coca-Cola's largest single shareholders, with 8.6%.

The Blizzard Treat

A very popular Dairy Queen treat today is the Blizzard Treat, which is soft-serve mechanically blended with add-in ingredients such as sundae toppings and/or pieces of cookies, brownies, or candy. It has been a staple on the menu since its introduction in 1985, a year in which Dairy Queen sold 175 million Blizzards. The Blizzard was invented by Richard, Ronald, and Ralph Medd of Iowa. It is traditionally served upside down to prove the thickness. The most popular Blizzard flavors include Skor Bars, Oreo Cookies, chocolate chip cookie dough, M&M's (Smarties in Canada), Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, Heath bar, Kit Kat, and Butterfinger. Seasonal flavors are also available such as October's Pumpkin Pie. It has been argued that Dairy Queen drew its inspiration from the concrete served by the St. Louismarker based Ted Drewes.

In addition, Dairy Queen is marketing its new Blizzard Cake which includes flavors such as strawberry cheesecake and Reese's. Much like the restaurant's conventional ice cream cake, this variation is aimed toward celebrations and birthdays.


For many years the franchise's slogan was "We treat you right!" During the late 1990s, the slogan "Hot Eats, Cool Treats" was widely used. In recent years, it has been changed to "DQ something different."

In Texas, at the end of the advertisement, there is a Texas flag waving, and the Texas state with the new DQ logo and slogan below saying, "That's What I Like About Texas."

Dennis the Menace appeared in Dairy Queen marketing from 1971 until 2001, when he was dropped because Dairy Queen felt children could no longer relate to the comic strip character.

Dairy Queen commercials often featured vast landscapes made out of ice cream or other various treats.

Currently, the advertising focuses on a mouth with a large set of lips, resembling the Dairy Queen Logo. This mouth is often advertising Dairy Queen's products using his quick wit and sense of humor.


The original Dairy Queen logo was simply a stylized text sign with a soft serve cone at one end. In the 1960, the company created its first "lips" design logo which took the "Dairy Queen" and inserted it into a red ovoid resembling pursed lips. The 2001 shortened the company name to its abbreviated format of "DQ". In both versions, the font of the lettering remained the same as the original signage introduced 60 years prior. Also, in both versions of this logo, the company placed the registered mark symbol immediately to the right, on the bottom side of the logo. When the company modernized it signage and logos again in late-2006, the company modified the font and italicized the "DQ" as well as adding arced lines, an orange to represent its hot foods above and a blue one below to represent its ice cream products. Additionally, in the new design the registered mark symbol was moved inside the "lips", adjacent to the letter "Q". The first overhaul of its logo in almost 70 years, the company claimed that the new logo would show brand growth and reflect the "fun and enjoyment" associated with its products. Advertising industry observers have noted that the new logo was an unneeded update of known and trusted industry brand and that its new features were distracting.

The original signage is still in use in older locations or in locations that use a "retro" design motif in the property's design. One example is the sign used at the Dairy Queen in Ottawamarker, Canadamarker.

Global locations

Dairy Queen locations
Countries currently with Dairy Queen locations:

Country formerly with Dairy Queen locations:
  • (Withdrew around 2000)
  • (Withdrew around 1999)
  • (Withdrew in the nineties)
  • (Withdrew by 1996)


  • Caroline H. Otis, et al. The Cone With the Curl on Top: The "Dairy Queen" Story. International Dairy Queen Inc., 1990.
  • S.E. Hinton.The Outsiders 1967

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