Yesterday, on my way home from my hometown, I made the proverbial junk food road trip stop and went to Dairy Queen. I got my favorite thing on the menu – A chocolate dipped cone. Now, I love the chocolate dipped cone, but the other day, while making a similar run (man, this post is starting to be really telling), I asked if they had the cherry dipped cones, to which the lady said they just carried the chocolate. That kinda made me sad. Does anyone else remember the day when you could get the cherry and butterscotch cones? I guess they are an acquired treat, but it also got me to thinking on how all the DQ’s seem so much more corporate than they used to be. Nowadays, it seems like every store has the same facade, the “Grill and Chill” and the menus even look the same at the drive-thru. There’s no room for diversity or variety that I think the old DQ franchises had.
I remember back to the days as a kid, getting so excited to have a custom “artist made” ice cream cake. I had one made with music notes (I played piano) that had my name written in that gel icing of theirs. I still enjoy those cakes (and the crunchy cookie center-yum), but I’ve noticed that they have pre-designed images that they put on the cake and lazily pipe around. Sad indeed.
I used to have a grade school friend, Mandee Young, whose dad owned our local DQ and neighboring ones nearby (man, did I think she was loaded). Ha ha. On field days at my school – Wayland Alexander Elementary, we got homemade, not pre-packaged Dilly bar treats (in the three flavors I mentioned prior). That was like the best part of the whole day (that and winning 3rd in the 100 yard dash).
One of the quirky things I remember was that Dennis the Menace cartoons graced the drink and sundae cups as well as the kid meal boxes. In the kid meals, they also always had a giant gold coin that could be redeemed for a small soft serve or Dilly bar. It was your choice to redeem it right away or save it for a rainy day. There always seemed something very magical about holding that gold coin and knowing a treat awaited me following my meal. Why do they not have those anymore?
I also remembered fun little promotions like sundaes in mini baseball helmets. I thought those were the coolest. I remember during that time pleading to my dad to take me there, just to collect another one of a different team than I already had. I sure do wish I still had mine. Maybe an ebay search is in my future. Update: Ok, it was…check this out…DQ baseball helmets.
Did anyone ever really win a Blizzard by getting that quarter in the shot glass in that fishbowl filled with water (the one that raised funds for the Children’s Miracle Network) I really never saw it happen….it’s a conspiracy, I tell ya!
The one thing I love about my DQ memories are that they remind me of special people in my life that enjoyed the treats just as much as I did. I would go on a lot of Sunday after-church shopping lunchtrips with a lady named Leathel (yes, this really was her real name), who thought the world of me and spoiled me like her own grandaughter. My own grandma, who passed away last year would take me there as well, and I always remember her getting the same thing…a hamburger, small coffee and afterwards, a blueberry Breeze. I guess that stands out in my mind cause she enjoyed treats just as much as I did (I could always pull her arm when it came to making or ordering something sweet on the menu at any restaurant).
When I was in college, one of my favorite memories was walking from campus to the old DQ. The one in Murray, KY is nostalgia at it’s best. They are only open from late March to October and they only serve the original DQ treats (you can get a cherry-dipped cone, there for sure) and they supposedly use the old soft serve (not brazier) version of ice cream, which is rare to find at DQ’s. The only other thing they serve is a foot long hot dog – none of the other “Hot Eats”. You have to sit outside and eat at little picnic tables. I always liked that it was a unique spot that was unfazed by time. In these changing times, it really is hard to find a slice of Americana that is truly authentic like that. I guess that is what I miss about the other DQ restaurants.
And on a final note, I think that there needs to be more training on that doodly doo on top of the soft serve. I think a lot of the employees are just getting plain lazy. It’s kinda like it’s a part of their branding and should be treated more like an artform. I know I see it that way.
Do you have a favorite DQ memory?
Now go out Swellions and get yourself that Dilly Bar…or perhaps make it a Buster bar?
All content/photos copyright, © Alexa L. Westerfield, 2008