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Features

Dairy Queen turns 80 - and it began in Joliet

Dairy Queen turned 80 on Monday. Its first store opened on North Chicago Street in Joliet. Pictured is the current location at 1700 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet.
Dairy Queen turned 80 on Monday. Its first store opened on North Chicago Street in Joliet. Pictured is the current location at 1700 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet.

If you enjoy the curl on the top of a soft-serve ice cream cone, know that the founder of Dairy Queen felt the same way.

Dairy Queen turned 80 on Monday. And the first store opened on North Chicago Street in Joliet.

According to an 1991 Associated Press story, founder Sherwood “Sherb” Noble broke into the ice cream business after taking a dairy course at Iowa State College and managing an ice cream store in his hometown of Clemons, Iowa.

In 1931, he opened another store in Kankakee.

“One day, a guy who supplied mixes, J.F. McCullough, said he had a machine for soft-serve ice cream,” Sue Stevens, Noble’s daughter, said in a 2006 Herald-News story, “but he didn’t know how to market it.”

So Noble and McCullough held an all-you-can-eat sale on Aug. 4, 1938, at the Kankakee store. More than 1,600 patrons came out and paid just 10 cents each.

“Dad later told me that he was worried about the windows being pushed out because of all the people in the store,” Stevens said in the story.

Noble then decided to open a store to sell soft-serve ice cream. McCullough came up with the Dairy Queen name.  

At one point, Noble owned as many as 35 stores in Illinois. When he died in March 1991, Noble had 7, the AP story said.

According to noblestores.com, the Noble family still owns nine Dairy Queen stores.

Here’s a few more facts about Dairy Queen from dairyqueen.com.

• 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.

• 1961: DQ introduces the Mr. Misty slush treat.

• 1962: International Dairy Queen Inc. is formed.

• 1965: DQ has its first national radio advertising.

• 1966: DQ has its first national TV commercial

• 1968: DQ introduces the Buster Bar.

• 1972: First DQ store opens in Japan.

• 1973: Say the word “Scrumpdillyishus!” and get a Peanut Buster Parfait for 49 cents.

• 1985: DQ sells more than 175 million Blizzard treats.

• 1991: First DQ store opens in Mexico

• 2011: The first DQ location opens in Egypt.

• 2017: First Grill & Chill restaurant opens in South Korea.

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