First Dairy Queen to be celebrated in Joliet

Americans are well-known for their fast-food culture that has since spread around the world. Joliet, now the fourth largest city in Illinois, will honor the nation’s first Dairy Queen:

Joliet will celebrate its heritage as the home of the first Dairy Queen as  part of the Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival on Saturday,

The Joliet Area Historic Museum will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and feature displays of Dairy Queen memorabilia, photos and original product sample packages. Visitors will get a Dairy Queen Dilly Bar.

The first Dairy Queen opened June 22, 1940 at 501 N. Chicago St., now the site of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Sheb Noble opened the store and sold soft-serve ice cream cones for 5 cents.

The Dairy Queen closed in the early 1950s, and over the years the building has housed a lawn-mower repair business, furniture store, motorcycle shop and plumbers.

I wish this article had more information about the growth of Dairy Queen: how did it go from this one location to “more than 5,700 locations operating throughout the United States, Canada and 22 other countries“? According to Dairy Queen’s website, the growth happened quickly:

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.

It sounds like they found a particular market niche, soft-serve ice cream,  and really capitalized even before other iconic fast-food restaurants, like McDonald’s (whose first franchised restaurant, the ninth overall, opened in Des Plaines, IL in 1955), really took off.

I’m not sure there is any other fast-food place that can compete with the Blizzard (sorry McFlurrys). And I’ve had my fair share.