'Ain't that a dilly!': How Dairy Queen became a small-town favorite

Restaurant Rewind: Some of the biggest chains in the restaurant business are targeting small burgs as their next avenues of growth. That strategy is far from new for the pioneer of the soft-serve market.

McDonald’s and Starbucks have both aired plans to shoehorn more units into less densely populated markets they would have bypassed with nary a second thought 10 or 20 years ago. Chances are they may find a few traditional Dairy Queens already pumping out cones and cups in those long-overlooked nooks.

The home of the Dilly Bar and the Blizzard was an early believer in the potential of the byways and crannies where the competition for frozen treats—or a fast-food treat of any kind—was far from blistering. The concept and its development strategy have evolved considerably from those days of rapid expansion, but the brand remains synonymous in the popular imagination with Small Town America.

This week’s episode of Restaurant Rewind looks at how Dairy Queen earned that distinction while adjusting to the monumental social changes of post-World War II America.  Treat yourself to a Blizzard and a colorful recollection of how a brand known by the curl topping its cones and cups quietly became a fast-food giant in its own right.

Download the episode from wherever you get your podcasts.

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