For more than 60 years, the Dairy Queen system's recipe for success has been simple. It's been a combination of hard-working people who own and operate restaurants and great-tasting food and tempting treats served in our establishments.
The founders of the Dairy Queen system were men and women who introduced a new kind of dessert treat and, in the process, developed the foundation of the franchising industry. The history of the Dairy Queen system is a story of a unique product that created an industry.
Our phenomenal story began with a 10 cent sale of a then unnamed product on August 4, 1938, in Kankakee, Illinois. A father and son in the mix plant business in Green River, Illinois, had been experimenting with a soft frozen dairy product for some time. They contacted Sherb Noble, a good friend and customer, who agreed to run the "all you can eat" trial sale at his walk-in ice cream store. Within two hours, he dished out more than 1,600 servings of the new dessert.
Back then, food franchising was all but unheard of, but the new product's potential made it a natural for such a system. When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, there were less than 10 Dairy Queen stores. However shortly after the war, the system took off at a pace virtually unrivaled before or since. With only 100 stores in 1947, it grew to 1,446 in 1950 and then to 2,600 in 1955. Today, the Dairy Queen system is one of the largest fast food systems in the world with more than 5,900 restaurants in the United States, Canada and 20 foreign countries.