Nothing changes the nature of how you approach any food like the people that you’re eating with. Just as most people aren’t apt to hack into a side of beef when hanging around a bunch of vegans, not everyone has the same approach to ice cream. Like a two year old. As my nephew told me when we first discussed ice cream, he prefers a regular. That meant chocolate ice cream, and the soft serve of Dairy Queen seemed the best place to provide a control for his reactions. I followed suit and got a soft Chocolate cone (his was just in a cup).
DQ is the sort of place that defies all of the rules of ice cream. For a product that is often homemade, or at least ruled by local dairies, there are nearly 6000 stores around the world. The dense creamy texture of most ice cream also goes out the window in a place that developed the soft serve back in 1938. Most places don’t have any hard pack at all.
The first Dairy Queen store was opened in 1940 in Joliet, Illinois, so it seems fitting that we go to sample their wares at a store less than an hour’s drive from there. For many this is like the McDonald’s of ice cream: pervasive and inexpensive, not the highest quality, but something that you can rely on and know just what you’re going to get when you go there. The prices for DQ products are remarkably cheap in this day and age, though often the portion size is commensurate with those prices.
The chocolate ice cream cone was everything I recall from evenings after baseball games in the summer. The chocolate flavor is almost all drowned out by sweetness, and resembles a store brand hot chocolate in it’s general blandness. I’d be shocked to learn that the flavor has any actual cocoa bean in it. Since the soft serve is based on a mix, the texture is consistent and really defines this type of ice cream. No sugar cone is offered, and the wafer cone seems a bit more like styrofoam than anything I should actually be eating.
Something this tepid seems as though it’s only goal is not to offend. In America, that’s just the sort of product that can be mass marketed, and have stores pop up everywhere. And in truth, DQ does just what it has always claimed that it will do: “We Treat You Right.” Don’t expect your horizons expanded, but do give them props for spreading the gospel of ice cream to towns big and small in over 20 countries.
While DQ only offers vanilla or chocolate cones, what they do excel at is making shakes and malts and Blizzards. Mixing their soft serve with every imaginable confection, this is an ice cream that is at it’s best when it is made into a different form. The company itself refers to it’s menu not as ice cream, but as treats, and if you do something with what they offer, it can sate the sweetest sweet tooth.
Cone – small $1.59 regular $1.99 large $2.29
Sundae – regular $1.89 medium $2.49 large$2.99
Shakes and malts – small $2.29 medium $2.79 large $3.59
Open year round
Monday-Saturday 10a-11p, Sunday 11a-11p