Dairy Queen’s roots, purpose run low in Texas

  • The oldest invariably handling Dairy Queen in Texas is in Henderson. / Houston Chronicle

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HENDERSON – The devise was to compensate a revisit to Mexia, discuss how locals frequently have to explain how to pronounce a name – Muh-HAY-uh – and afterwards share an aged fun about Mexia’s Dairy Queen.

My devise went badly immediately. The Dairy Queen was closed. we meant CLOSED, close down. These days, we have to expostulate over to Groesbeck or Waco for your Dilly Bar or your Triple Truffle Blizzard Treat.


Still, given there used to be a Dairy Queen in Mexia, we suspect a fun is still pertinent. As a story goes, a roving salesman stopped off during Mexia’s DQ and while he waited for his order, he asked a immature lady behind a opposite a question.

“How do we pronounce a name of this place?” he wanted to know.


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To review this essay in one of Houston’s most-spoken languages, click on a symbol below.


Native Texan


She looked him in a eye and replied, slowly, as if articulate to a child: “Day-ree Queen.”

I always suppose that a waitress responding a doubt is a late Anna Nicole Smith, who grew adult in Mexia. we had listened that she worked during Mexia’s DQ, yet that’s not true. Smith – afterwards a gangly teen named Vickie Lynn Hogan – worked in a mid-1980s during Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken. Jim’s is still in business, and from what we hear, a duck and rolls are unequivocally good.

I would have attempted them, yet we was on a DQ quest. we was looking, not for a middle chocolate malt, as is too mostly a box when I’m on a road, yet for a pivotal to Dairy Queen’s singular place in a enlightenment of parochial Texas. we headed to Henderson, a large Piney-Woods city that’s home to a oldest invariably operated DQ in a state.

Dairy Queens are so entire in parochial Texas, we insincere they were Texas-born and bred. Not so. Even yet Texas is home to some-more DQs than any other state – 595 during a impulse – a sequence got a start with an ice cream store in Moorhead, Minn., owned by a male named Sheb Noble. When Noble’s crony John Fremont “Grandpa” McCullough and McCullough’s son Bradley assured him to start offered soft-serve ice cream in 1938, a contingent satisfied they were onto something after they sole some-more than 1,600 in a integrate of hours. Two years after they non-stop a initial Dairy Queen in a Chicago suburb of Joliet.

Today a Dairy Queen Corporation is owned by Berkshire Hathaway – Warren Buffett, in other words. The multi-billionaire financier is pronounced to be a unchanging caller to his hometown Omaha DQ.

A few years ago, Buffett gave me a smashing version for my autobiography of football Hall of Famer Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, his boyhood hero, so we contacted “my pal” to see what he had to contend about Dairy Queen. His secretary pronounced he didn’t have time to respond, given his image was full – of business, we assume, not Blizzards.

Local science thrives

Texas author Larry McMurtry detected Dairy Queens when he changed behind to Archer City, a little northwest Texas city where he grew up. As he explains in his 1999 memoir, “Walter Benjamin during a Dairy Queen: Reflections during Sixty and Beyond,” it was a summer of 1980, and he was struck by a suspicion while sitting in a counter during a internal DQ. Reading a book by a German literary censor Walter Benjamin and nursing a orange Dr Pepper – “a sweetmeat particularly local, unheard of even in a subsequent Dairy Queen down a highway (Olney’s, 18 miles south)” – he came to comprehend that Benjamin’s observations about how we no longer share stories was applicable to Archer City and to Dairy Queens.

“What we remember clearly,” McMurtry writes, “is that before a Dairy Queens seemed a people of a little towns had no place to accommodate and talk; and so they didn’t accommodate or talk, that meant that most internal science or occurrence remained private and ceased to be exchanged, debated and stored, as internal science had been during a centuries that Benjamin describes.”

‘The knowledge table’

McMurtry, who used to suffer wayward around Texas by car, no doubt knows that Dairy Queens aren’t a usually places where parochial Texans get together to visit. In Fayetteville, guys of a certain age accommodate over coffee any morning during Orsak’s Café on a square, where, by agreement, they speak about anything and all solely politics. In Carthage, it’s a Main Street Café, where a conduct football manager and assorted locals accumulate during “the knowledge table.” In Marathon, now that a warm owners of Nancy’s Coffee Shop has upheld on, it’s a lonesome garage during Ernesto Aguilar’s Alon gas hire circuitously a turnoff to Big Bend National Park.

Dairy Queens and other parochial entertainment places “combined a functions of tavern, café and ubiquitous store,” McMurtry writes.

‘I work subsequent door’

I asked Dean Peters, DQ’s corporate spokesman, either a association done unwavering efforts to inspire DQ’s parochial amicable function. The usually thing that came to mind, he said, is that DQ stores are locally owned; a managers and employees are partial of a community. They make a locals feel comfortable.

So it is in Henderson, where Dairy Queen initial non-stop a little walk-up store in 1950. Joe Rios, a former Rusk County emissary policeman who’s lived in a area given 1976, has been store manager for 16 years. His sister, Norma Ramirez, has managed a DQ in circuitously Tatum for 25.

Why Dairy Queen? we asked Bill Henry, a retirement who has worked for a circuitously apparatus let place for a past 13 years and who gathers with a squad of DQ regulars during slightest weekly.

Henry laughed. “It’s good food. Joe’s a good friend. And we work subsequent door,” he said.

At Dairy Queens and other parochial entertainment places, something critical is function any day, but even a regulars realizing it. With their jokes and their jibes, their opinions vast and otherwise, their report and their pieces of family news, they’re looking out for any other and for their community.

DQ to HQ

I suspicion about Tivoli, a little coastal city that Hurricane Harvey scarcely blew off a map. The internal Dairy Queen was a initial business adult and using after a storm, interjection to a generator a Corpus Christi owners brought in. Without power, locals brought food from their refrigerators that would differently spoil and baked it during a DQ. The DQ became relief-worker HQ.

DQ regulars around a state don’t need a hurricane, of course. What they competence tell you, though, is that a Dilly Bar might be some-more than only a guilty treat.

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