Frozen treats has been around and enjoyed for hundreds of years, however the soft-serve concept wasn’t developed until 1938 by Iowa-born John Fremont McCullough and his son Alex. Together they convinced a pal, Sherb Noble, to offer the innovative product in his frozen treats store in Kankakee, Illinois, a small town south of Chicago. On the first day of sales, to everyone’s surprise, Noble dished out a lot more than 1,600 servings of the new dessert within two hours. (Looks like it was a hit.) Knowing they were onto something big, Noble and also the McCulloughs went on to open the initial Dairy Queen menu a couple of years later in Joliet, Illinois, placing Mr. Noble at the helm (who better) which opened for business on June 22, perfect timing for the long, hot summer. Although this original site has not been functioning since the 1950s, the building still stands as a designated landmark, hearkening back to simpler times for Boomers who go by.

For many years, Dairy Queens were and therefore are a fixture of social life in small towns from the Midwest and South and also by the 70s, checking up on the days (as well as the competition), most DQs added fast food, including sausages, hamburgers and fries, talking about their newest menu items as “Brazier.” Although a couple of shops are only open in the summer, most stay open year-round. All things considered, why consume frozen treats just seasonally unless you are now living in North Dakota? The biggest store is situated in Bloomington, IL, home of the state university, Busiest honors go to Prince Edward Island, Canada (go figure). In 2014, Dairy Queen listed over 6,400 stores in than 25 countries (75% which have been in the U.S.). For decades, the old adage boasted every Texas town experienced a DQ. While will no longer literally true as small-town America dwindles, the largest concentration is still in the Lone Star State.

All DQs now offer the Orange Julius drink, a brand name that they acquired in 1987, and many shops can be found in food courts and departmental stores nationwide. DQ actually has two official fan clubs: Blizzard and Orange Julius. Blizzard fans, over 4 million strong, get their choices seriously, with a variety of ingredients and mix-ins available. DQ also provides specialty soft ice cream cakes, with their traditional collection of soft-serve treats, cone dippings and toppings.

Throughout the country, many single-unit mom and pop stands took notice and opened on Memorial Day serving the neighborhood children, with walk-up stands, often calling themselves “frozen custard.” Nobody cared exactly what the name was, meant vanilla and chocolate creamy cones and cups, perhaps a few picnic tables to linger at, and an after-dinner treat within walking distance of home. Local kids looked toward their short but sweet hours, which sadly closed after Labor Day. Simple names like Al’s, Bert’s or Tastee Treat started yfewqe appear on busy corners and youngsters rode their bikes eagerly anticipating what awaited them, with a dime or perhaps a quarter stashed in their pocket. Rarely did these stands offer greater than the 2 basic flavors, however, if one was lucky, there might be a strawberry flavor too (oh, boy). (Author’s note: her local soft-serve stand featured green mint, that was on the top, particularly with hot fudge.)

Minor competitors like Tastee-Freez and Fosters Freeze both were only available in California inside the 1950s and possess under 50 locations each but carry on and thrive with a cadre of loyal customers.

So who is up for a few soft-serve? Any time of year it hits the spot. If you don’t have any shops close to you, maybe a frozen yogurt, nevertheless it won’t become the same. Look at your local shopping mall and you simply might luck out. And don’t worry: mom was wrong, it won’t spoil your dinner.

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