Serious Eats: Sweets
Dairy Queen's Blizzard Turns 25
When it comes to fast-food dairy desserts, I'll take a DQ Blizzard over a McDonald's McFlurry or a Wendy's Frosty any day of the week. And, if the Blizzard fan club is any sign of things, I'm not alone.
This year the Blizzard celebrates its 25th birthday and as part of Blizzard Customer Appreciation Week (April 19 to 25) participating Dairy Queens are offering a buy one any-size Blizzard and get a second one for a quarter.
There's even a national Blizzard Tour driving across the United States, with stops in Charleston, West Virginia, and Lexington, Kentucky this week.
The Blizzard is a take on the Midwest's classic concrete—a thick frozen custard that, when mixed to the proper consistency, can be held upside-down over your head without incident—but made with soft-serve.
The mix-ins you can order include candy, cookies, fruit, and other sundae-style fare. Over 75 different specialty Blizzards have been featured on the DQ menu over the years, including popular favorites like Oreo Cookie and Butterfinger and seasonal offerings like Twix or Treat and Yule Flip Peppermint Chip. (I have a feeling it's OK that I missed out on 2001's Grape Kool-Aid Explosion. "Oh yeah!")
There are more than 650 DQ locations across the United States and Canada but there wasn't one where I grew up in central New York (where there are actual blizzards) so I didn't cut my teeth on them, but I came to fully appreciate the Blizzard later in life. Which is probably a good thing as I have a soft spot for soft-serve. (A quick sidebar: How frustrating is it when they run fast-food commercials for restaurants that don't have an outpost where you live? I'm talking about you Sonic Drive-In, whose TV spots run nonstop here in Seattle, even though the closest one is 35 miles away in Puyallup).
My friend Chris is something of a Blizzard aficionado and he claims that the quality of your Blizzard experience is all in the hands of the person behind the stick at the DQ. It seems that a lot of individual flair goes into each server's technique and can determines whether your Blizzard will be on the chunky side or have its add-ins pureed to specks. You can see that the mix-ins in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard I ordered seem slim on the surface, but the little dime-sized circles of cookie dough were hiding out within the soft-serve.
And if there isn't a proper DQ in your neighborhood, another Blizzard tip Chris passed along was to be on the lookout for the DQ/Orange Julius outposts, often found in shopping malls. While they don't offer the full DQ menu, you can get your Blizzard fix there.
April's Blizzard of the Month is Ooey Gooey Caramel Brownie. What's your favorite Blizzard?
About the author: Brad Thomas Parsons is a Seattle-based writer who has interviewed many of the food world's biggest names, including David Chang, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Danny Meyer, Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Paula Deen, and Giada De Laurentiis, among others. He is currently at work on his first book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails and Recipes.