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Friday, July 25, 2014

Dairy Queen Memories

It's time for another edition of FOODIE FRIDAY, and to kick off this entry, I want to tell you a story.  Don't worry.  It's not a long one, and this story doesn't involve any talk show hosts blowing up our electronics.

But one question that I've been asked deals with a lot of the personal photos and videos that I have presented in this blog.  You might have noticed that whenever I film something in my bedroom, or post a picture taken in my room, that there's something hanging on the wall next to the window.  It's only visible whenever I aim my camera facing the window wall, like in this photo below.

Yeah, that DQ sign is very visible.  And, yes...I did take it.  But in fairness, that sign was going to be thrown out anyway as our DQ location had gotten brand new signs at the time.  The way I see it, I was doing them a great service by claiming that sign for my room.

(Am I seriously justifying pinching a Dairy Queen sign here?  Yes.  Yes I am.  Oh well, I suppose there's worse things that one can do.)

Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent here.  That DQ sign might seem like an insignificant thing for most of you, but I have to tell you that some of my all-time favourite childhood memories were based around Dairy Queen and Dairy Queen related products.

You see, back in the days in which I was only three feet tall and still had a "Lizzie McGuire" voice, Dairy Queen was a rare treat.  And believe me when I say that it was a rare treat.

In those days, our Dairy Queen restaurant was located on the outskirts of town.  It was about a ten to fifteen minute drive to the location.  And because of its location, the Dairy Queen couldn't sustain being open all year long, so the restaurant only opened during the summer months.  If my memory serves me, the old Dairy Queen location stayed open between the first week of May and the first week of September.  That's only a few months of the year.  No wonder whenever my family made the trek out to Dairy Queen during the summer that it was always insanely busy.

I suppose that it was a good thing that our old Dairy Queen wasn't a sit down restaurant because it wasn't uncommon for all of us to stand in line for close to twenty minutes among a sea of ice cream lovers.  I remember when I was really young, I always had to hold on to either my mom's hand, or my dad's hand because there were so many people inside the building and they were worried that I would get lost (though, given that the building was no bigger than a classroom, I would think that would be impossible).  As I grew older, I wedged my way over to one of the arcade games that were located near the back entrance.  If I was lucky, I could get in to play a round, but even if I didn't it was fun to watch someone else play.

Hey, all that claustrophobia and patience paid off whenever we got our Dairy Queen treats.  And every single person in my family all ordered different things, which made it easier to distribute the cool treats.

Mom would always get the plain vanilla cone.  Dad always got the chocolate dipped cone.  One sister was addicted to the Blizzards, and the other one salivated over the Peanut Buster Parfait.  I can't remember which one was which, though.  Maybe they both liked both desserts.

Interestingly enough, my favourite thing to order at Dairy Queen wasn't even ice cream based.  I liked the frozen Slushie drinks that were known as Mr. Misty drinks.  I think they have since been renamed as Arctic Coolers or Arctic Chill or something like that, but I always had to have them.  I would get a different flavour each visit (usually grape, lime, or raspberry).  And besides, the Mr. Misty cups had Dennis the Menace cartoons on them, which made them even more fun!

(Though on the days in which I did want ice cream, I would have settled for a Dilly Bar or a Blizzard.)

For several summers, that was a semi-annual tradition.  We'd go to Dairy Queen every other weekend, grab some delicious treats, sit in the parking lot and eat (or in my case, drink) them in the car, and then drive home.

Of course, once we had gotten word that they were going to be building a year round Dairy Queen in town towards the end of the 1990s, it was a bittersweet moment.  Was it awesome that I could satisfy my ice cream cravings during the Christmas holidays?  Absolutely!  And don't think I haven't done that either.  Getting a Blizzard during a blizzard is definitely something that is a real thrill (and chill) to experience.  On the flipside, the memories of going out to the Dairy Queen down the highway every summer were simply that.  Memories.  And, sure, I love the fact that Dairy Queen is all year round.  Yet, I still sort of miss the old Dairy Queen location.  The one that only opened four months a year.  The one that made a Dairy Queen treat even more special. 

Does that sound weird?

Anyway, that's my story about how I got the Dairy Queen sign, and how I will always have a special place in my heart for Dairy Queen.

Now, I just talked about the cool treats portion of Dairy Queen restaurants.  But I think it's also important to mention that they also served hot eats as well.  But believe it or not, I didn't really get a chance to sample any of the hot eats that Dairy Queen had to offer until I went to another Dairy Queen location in a different town (during the days in which the location we had was only open in summer).

I can't remember whether the old Dairy Queen restaurant sold burgers, fries, and hot dogs, but that place was so busy all the time that none of us even really considered even asking the staff if they did.  It wasn't until we were out of town (I think my dad and I were on our way to visit my mom who was recovering from surgery in a larger hospital the next town over) and we entered a sit down restaurant that I enjoyed my first Dairy Queen burger and fries.

Now, I have a question for you guys.  Maybe you might think that I've lost my mind here, or what have you, but I have to ask.  Did Dairy Queen have a special kind of sauce on their burgers?  Nowadays they use regular ketchup, but back when I was a kid, I remember that they used some sort of red substance that looked like ketchup, but had its own distinct taste.  It was like they had their own kind of tomato like sauce for their burgers.  Does anyone else remember this, or is it just me? 

Maybe I'm just trying to reassure myself that I'm not crazy.  Am I convincing you yet?  No?  Yes?  Maybe so?

Well, while I ponder that question, why don't I end this blog entry off by posting some Dairy Queen commercials.  Some are cute, and some are annoying...but they are creative.  That much I'll say.

By the way...since I encourage audience participation here...

What's your favourite Dairy Queen treat?

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