The DQ® STORY

A History of Sweet Success

While many things have changed for us over the years, one thing remains constant. We have always been and continue to be a place for celebrations, much-needed breaks, and family time. The secret to our success is just as simple now as it was when we first opened in 1940. Happy customers make successful restaurants. Dairy Queen® locations follow much more than a fast food routine – we create meaningful, memorable moments for our fans and quality experiences for our franchisees.

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A Smile and A Story®

  • The Homemade Ice Cream Company is established and run by the McCullough family in Green River, Illinois.

    1927

    The Homemade Ice Cream Company is established and run by the McCullough family in Green River, Illinois.

  • The McCulloughs develop the soft-serve ice cream concept and the name Dairy Queen® is introduced. The product is first served at an “All You Can Eat” ice cream sale in Kankakee, Illinois.

    1938

    The McCulloughs develop the soft-serve ice cream concept and the name Dairy Queen® is introduced. The product is first served at an “All You Can Eat” ice cream sale in Kankakee, Illinois.

  • Harry Oltz advertises his invention of a frozen custard dispenser. The McCulloughs and Oltz sign an agreement that launches the Dairy Queen® industry.

    1939

    Harry Oltz advertises his invention of a frozen custard dispenser. The McCulloughs and Oltz sign an agreement that launches the Dairy Queen® industry.

  • The first Dairy Queen® store opens in Joliet, Illinois. Menu items were limited to soft serve cones, pints, quarts, and sundaes.

    1940

    The first Dairy Queen® store opens in Joliet, Illinois. Menu items were limited to soft serve cones, pints, quarts, and sundaes.

  • Harry Axene introduces franchising territories and selling Dairy Queen® licensing rights for royalties. He had the vision of putting together a national franchising system.

    1943

    Harry Axene introduces franchising territories and selling Dairy Queen® licensing rights for royalties. He had the vision of putting together a national franchising system.

  • The first meeting of Dairy Queen® National Trade Association (DQNTA) happens in Davenport, Illinois. The group developed standardized cones, paper and plastic goods, food products, as well as advertising.

    1948

    The first meeting of Dairy Queen® National Trade Association (DQNTA) happens in Davenport, Illinois. The group developed standardized cones, paper and plastic goods, food products, as well as advertising.

  • The number of Dairy Queen® stores grow from fourteen hundred to three thousand.

    1950

    The number of Dairy Queen® stores grow from fourteen hundred to three thousand.

  • The first international Dairy Queen® opens in Winnipeg, Western Canada.

    1953

    The first international Dairy Queen® opens in Winnipeg, Western Canada.

  • The Dilly Bar® debuts among other new products like the banana split, the Maltie®, flavored sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches.

    1955

    The Dilly Bar® debuts among other new products like the banana split, the Maltie®, flavored sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches.

  • As popularity of charcoal broiling grows, the Brazier® program is introduced at a Georgia location. The menu included burgers, hotdogs and French fries. In Georgia, sales were 70 percent Brazier® and 30 percent soft serve.

    1961

    As popularity of charcoal broiling grows, the Brazier® program is introduced at a Georgia location. The menu included burgers, hotdogs and French fries. In Georgia, sales were 70 percent Brazier® and 30 percent soft serve.

  • International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) is formed and established. IDQ becomes a leadership entity for developing effective advertising, branding, merchandising, and expansion of Dairy Queen® foreign presence.

    1962

    International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) is formed and established. IDQ becomes a leadership entity for developing effective advertising, branding, merchandising, and expansion of Dairy Queen® foreign presence.

  • Dairy Queen® products continue to develop. The system becomes the third largest fast-food chain in the United States with gross sales reaching approximately $450 million.

    1970

    Dairy Queen® products continue to develop. The system becomes the third largest fast-food chain in the United States with gross sales reaching approximately $450 million.

  • Seventy-five Dairy Queen® stores operate outside of the United States and Canada. By the end of the decade, IDQ had 154 stores in nine countries, including Barbados, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan and Panama. Canada locations had grown to 365 stores.

    1976

    Seventy-five Dairy Queen® stores operate outside of the United States and Canada. By the end of the decade, IDQ had 154 stores in nine countries, including Barbados, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan and Panama. Canada locations had grown to 365 stores.

  • Public trading of company stock begins for the first time and corporate stock increases dramatically. IDQ was quoted among the top fourteen hundred companies in the Nasdaq.

    1977

    Public trading of company stock begins for the first time and corporate stock increases dramatically. IDQ was quoted among the top fourteen hundred companies in the Nasdaq.

  • Food sales continue to grow in popularity. Stores begin offering drive-thru window experiences. By 1981, 40 percent of the stores worldwide sold Brazier® food products.

    1980

    Food sales continue to grow in popularity. Stores begin offering drive-thru window experiences. By 1981, 40 percent of the stores worldwide sold Brazier® food products.

  • Dairy Queen® franchise operators around the country raise $30,000 for local children’s hospitals. Partnerships with Children’s Miracle Network grow stronger as donations progressed to $770,000 in 1988, to $2.2 million in 1989, and to $2.4 million in 1990.

    1984

    Dairy Queen® franchise operators around the country raise $30,000 for local children’s hospitals. Partnerships with Children’s Miracle Network grow stronger as donations progressed to $770,000 in 1988, to $2.2 million in 1989, and to $2.4 million in 1990.

  • Blizzard® Flavor Treat is introduced to the menu and purchases were at 75 million treats during its first year on the menu.

    1985

    Blizzard® Flavor Treat is introduced to the menu and purchases were at 75 million treats during its first year on the menu.

  • Dairy Queen® Value meals are introduced as food becomes a hot commodity for the DQ® system. Super Value Meals featured a Homestyle Burger and a variety of basket meals.

    1992

    Dairy Queen® Value meals are introduced as food becomes a hot commodity for the DQ® system. Super Value Meals featured a Homestyle Burger and a variety of basket meals.

  • The first DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant opens in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With an evolved menu and strong branding, the Dairy Queen Grill & Chill® concept continues to be the strongest investment in DQ® history.

    2001

    The first DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant opens in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With an evolved menu and strong branding, the Dairy Queen Grill & Chill® concept continues to be the strongest investment in DQ® history.

  • 1927
  • 1938
  • 1939
  • 1940
  • 1943
  • 1948
  • 1950
  • 1953
  • 1955
  • 1961
  • 1962
  • 1970
  • 1976
  • 1977
  • 1980
  • 1984
  • 1985
  • 1992
  • 2001

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