The History of Dairy Queen
By Hazel Stephens
The history of Dairy Queen is an impressive and inspiring one. Beginning with the imagination of a father and son in Green River, Illinois, Dairy Queen exploded in popularity at a rate of growth unheard of either before or since. Indeed, it seems that America and the world were ready for the product that DQ brought to the public, and that people everywhere had been craving this type of treat for a long time.
The signature treat of Dairy Queen is of course its soft serve frozen dairy treats. The original frozen treats were simple soft serve "ice cream" cones and were first sold during a trial run at a friend's ice cream shop in 1938. The price was 10 cents for "all you can eat", and the massive success of their sales that day convinced them that they had developed a special product. They then opened their first store in 1940, and almost immediately began using a franchise system of expansion.
When the United States went to war in 1941 there were 10 DQ branches. When the war ended the number quickly shot up to 100 branches in 1947, and then its exponential growth exploded. By 1950 there were 1446 branches of DQ across America. After another 5 years, that number had nearly doubled. It's hard to know exactly why the chain's popularity expanded so quickly in those years. Perhaps it was the desire of a war-exhausted nation to seek out simple pleasures and family-friendly recreation in the post-war years, and Dairy Queen become a potent symbol of that carefree lifestyle. The franchise system also allowed them to expand into parts of small-town America on a scale that other chains could not, turning DQ into a potent symbol of the typical small-town American lifestyle.
In 1998 Dairy Queen was acquired by Warren Buffet's conglomerate holding company Berthshire Hathaway. It continues to expand internationally, currently boasting over 5600 branches worldwide in 19 countries. Around 4600 of those branches are located within the USA. With its status as the creators of soft serve and as a symbol of American life which is idealized by the world, DQ's expansion around the globe was simply a matter of time. Dairy Queen is a true American success story.
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