A Story of Sweet Success

For more than 60 years, the Dairy Queen system’s recipe for success has been simple. It’s been a combination of hard-working people who own and operate restaurants and great-tasting food and tempting treats served in our establishments.

The founders of the Dairy Queen system were men and women who introduced a new kind of dessert treat and, in the process, developed the foundation of the franchising industry. The history of the Dairy Queen system is a story of a unique product that created an industry.

Our phenomenal story began with a 10 cent sale of a then unnamed product on August 4, 1938, in Kankakee, Illinois. A father and son in the mix plant business in Green River, Illinois, had been experimenting with a soft frozen dairy product for some time. They contacted Sherb Noble, a good friend and customer, who agreed to run the “all you can eat” trial sale at his walk-in ice cream store. Within two hours, he dished out more than 1,600 servings of the new dessert.

Back then, food franchising was all but unheard of, but the new product’s potential made it a natural for such a system. When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, there were less than 10 Dairy Queen stores. However shortly after the war, the system took off at a pace virtually unrivaled before or since. With only 100 stores in 1947, it grew to 1,446 in 1950 and then to 2,600 in 1955. Today, the Dairy Queen system is one of the largest fast food systems in the world with more than 5,900 restaurants in the United States, Canada and 20 foreign countries.

Although much has changed in the world and in the Dairy Queen system through the years, one constant has remained: Dairy Queen stores are still, and always have been, the place to find Little League teams celebrating a victory, business people on their lunch break and families taking time out to enjoy great food and soft serve treats. And, success for the Dairy Queen system is as simple today as it was in 1940. Satisfied customers lead to successful restaurants. Each owner of our independently owned and operated establishments worldwide are committed to nothing less than the slogan “We Treat You Right.”

Over the years, Dairy Queen acquired Orange Julius® of America and Karmelkorn® Shoppes, Inc.

In January 1998, International Dairy Queen, Inc. and its subsidiary companies were purchased by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

IDQ is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Highlights of the Dairy Queen system include:

1940: First Dairy Queen store opens in Joliet, Illinois.

1949: DQ introduces malts and shakes.

1951: Banana Splits appear on the menu.

1953: First DQ store opens in Canada.

1955: The Dilly® Bar debuts

1957: The Dairy Queen/Brazier® concept is introduced.

1958: The Dairy Queen/Brazier food products are introduced.

1961: The Mr. Misty slush treat cools throats in the warm South.

1962: International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) is formed.

1965: First national radio advertising sends DQ message 169 million times a week.

1966: First national TV commercial is aired, “Live a Little”

1968: The Buster Bar® bursts forth.

1970: Hot Fudge Brownie Delight™ debuts

1972: First DQ store opens in Japan and Dennis the Menace becomes the spokescharacter for DQ.

1973: Say the word Scrumpdillyishhus! and get a Peanut Buster Parfait for 49 cents.

1979: The DQ system debuts in the Middle East.

1980: We Treat You Right themeline is debuted.

1985: More than 175 million Blizzard Flavour Treats sold in its first year.

1989: Dairy Queen ranked America’s number one treat chain.

1991: First DQ store opens in Mexico

1995: DQ Treatzza Pizza™ and the Chicken Strip Basket make their debut.

1998: Chocolate Rock® Treat is introduced systemwide

1999: Pecan Mudslide® Treat is introduced.

1999: An operator of several DQ locations in Massachusetts builds the world’s largest blended treat weighing in at 5,316.6 pounds.

2000: The S’more Galore™ Parfait makes its debut.

2001: Crispy Chicken Salad is introduced.

2001: The first DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant opens in Chattanooga, Tenn.

2002: Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, becomes manager for the day of a DQ location in Texas.

2003: The Blizzard of the Month Program kicks off.

2004:The MooLatte® Beverage line debuts in Mocha, Vanilla and Caramel Flavours.

2004: Award-winning Dairy Queen commercials can be seen throughout the country in the system’s first full year of national advertising.

2005: GrillBurgers™ were introduced to consumers on national TV.

2005: The record is broken on June 21, when a new World’s Largest Blizzard Treat was built in Springfield, Mass. It weighed 8,224.85 pounds and was 22-feet tall.