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(Un)International Intrigue: Dairy Queen Queens

little chief

No one would argue with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard cake, which is what I ended up with for Thanksgiving. Yet it’s still not the “Little Chief” ice cream cake with two tones of green icing and Thanks! piped somewhere on the surface as I specified in my online order more than the requisite 48-hours in advance.

I spend so much time wondering about foreign chains that I forget how badly NYC messes up everything middle-American, a brutal irony considering so many would prefer these businesses stay away in the first place.

I don’t think Corona realizes Dairy Queen is about ice cream or more accurately, soft serve. No one was eating any on the afternoon I showed up (which to be fair, was wet and sleety–and dare I say blizzardy?). The large multi-door freezer case where the ice cream cakes should’ve been stood dark and empty.

A manager (one of three I was directed to) was candid in saying that business hadn’t been as strong as expected in the two weeks since opening on Veterans’ Day. I do wonder if the key to success is brand recognition and nostalgia, not just appearing as another place to get fast food burgers and fries, because Manhattan’s first DQ drew a great deal of attention (lauding and detracting) and I’ll admit I was pretty excited when a branch opened in the Staten Island Ferry terminal last year. Junction Boulevard isn’t exactly teeming with suburban transplants.

“You had the Dora cake, right?” Um, did I? After 15 minutes and numerous interactions with different staffers, phone calls being made to other managers, and passwords needed to look up online orders, I started forgetting why I was at Dairy Queen in the first place. Oh right, my cute anachronism did have a brown bowl cut. Just think if I took the suggestion to change the hair color from the special requests ad copy online:

“Do you want us to change the decoration in some way? Make the hair blonde, change the number on the jersey, don’t use red, ….”

Not "Little Chief"

Not “Little Chief”

I just nodded. “Yes, the Dora cake.”

There would be no Dora cake until Friday. My order hadn’t been received until Tuesday, despite my email confirmation at 9:46am on Monday.

dq cake remains

When it was all said and done, a Reese’s Peanut Butter cake was produced from somewhere in the basement and it was only $13, a new store half-price promotional discount, and I’ve been eating it gradually for the past two weeks.

It’s still no Little Chief, though.

I also can’t believe I just devoted this much energy to a bungled ice cream cake, but that’s what happens when the sun goes down at 4:27pm and you don’t leave the house over the weekend.

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