When the Blizzard hit Dairy Queen menus more than 35 years ago, it was an immediate sensation. The combination of cookie and candy pieces in a thick, frozen base made for a perfectly indulgent treat. The gimmick of serving them upside-down also boosted their appeal. Here are seven sweet facts you should know about the Blizzard.
1. The Blizzard stormed Dairy Queen menus in 1985.
Dairy Queen opened its first location in 1940, and for years it was a family-friendly destination for soft-serve, banana splits, and Dilly bars. Its most iconic item first appeared on menus nationwide 45 years into the company’s history. From its inception, the frozen treat was clearly a game changer: Dairy Queen sold more than 175 million Blizzards the year it debuted.
2. The Blizzard was one franchisee’s take on frozen custard.
The idea for the Blizzard came from Samuel Temperato, a Dairy Queen operator who owned 67 franchises in the St. Louis, Missouri, area when he came up with the concept. Temperato cited the beloved local business Ted Drewes Frozen Custard as his inspiration. To distinguish his product from Drewes’s “concrete” custard, he added cookie and candy pieces to the dessert—though this move wasn't entirely original, either. Temperato admitted to borrowing that idea from the St. Louis-area custard stand Huckleberry's, which was no longer operating in 1986 but, when it was open, had added Heath bar, Snickers, and Oreo pieces to its concretes.
3. Samuel Temperato also borrowed the idea to serve Blizzards upside-down.
The Blizzard’s striking presentation—served upside-down with the spoon handle pointed at the floor—wasn’t an original idea, either. Ted Drewes started serving his concretes that way after a teenage customer kept demanding thicker shakes. Temperato thought it was an ingenious way to demonstrate the quality of his treat.
4. Blizzards aren’t labeled as ice cream for a reason.
Blizzards may be frozen and creamy, but they aren’t ice cream—at least not according to the FDA. In the U.S., frozen dessert products must contain at least 10 percent butterfat to qualify as ice cream. Blizzards—and regular Dairy Queen soft-serve—are 5 percent butterfat, which is why they’re sold under the vague label of “treat.”
5. Oreo initially refused to collaborate with Dairy Queen.
Oreo is one of the best-selling Blizzard flavors in the U.S. today, but it almost never came to be. When Dairy Queen first got in touch with the makers of Oreo about adding cookie pieces to a new dessert, the brand called the idea “crazy.” Hydrox agreed to provide the cookie pieces and the brand name to the Blizzard flavor in Oreo’s place. This partnership didn’t last long: When Oreo saw how successful the Blizzard was, they quickly took Dairy Queen up on the old offer.
6. Some Blizzard flavors aren’t on U.S. menus.
Dairy Queen customers in the U.S. are used to getting cookie and candy pieces in their Blizzard, but one of the treat’s most successful flavors isn’t available in the country. Shortly after Dairy Queen's green tea-flavored Blizzard was introduced in China, it quickly became a hit with locals.
7. An 8260-pound Blizzard broke a world record.
Dairy Queen broke the Guinness World Record for largest blended “soft-serve” dessert in 2005 with a behemoth, 8260-pound Blizzard. Luckily, no DQ employees were forced to hold this one upside-down.