Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dairy Queen Gives Fast Food Hegemony the Finger

Last month my roommate, our friend, and my roommate's mother, and I all traveled to Portland. On our return we decided to stop at a Dairy Queen for various 'cool treats.' We gleefully discussed which trademarked frozen confection we desired. My roommate craved the butterscotch dipped cone, her mother a chocolate on chocolate dipped cone, our friend a nice peanut butter cup Blizzard, and I desired the cherry dipped cone. I left my order with my roommate and skittered into the restroom.When I returned the Dairy Queen harpies were laughing and my roommate's mother was looking quite perturbed. They were insisting that Dairy Queens did not have more than one variety of dipped cone, nor did they serve chocolate soft serve. Their DQ had never had any of such freakish and peculiar items. We were appalled, but reasoned that we were in the middle of nowhere and perhaps, that was the problem. Everyone got something else, but I didn't feel like wasting calories on a low quality milkshake.

The next week my roommate and I were out and about and stopped by a nice suburban Seattle DQ. While they had chocolate soft serve, they did not have dipped cones. This dirth of proper food/ good service reminded me of the following incidents:
1. My Mom got a job at a DQ in Oklahoma as a teenager. On her first day she stood excitedly in her red visor and polo shirt being trained in Cool Treat-ology. The man showed her how to make the trademarked three bulb softserve cone and then carefully flipped it over dipping it in the chocolate dip. He then began to turn it right side up when disaster struck: the cone fell to the floor with a crunch. Looking both ways, he picked it up and said, "Well, that happens a lot because of the wrapper. Just dip it again and nobody will notice." Which he did.
2. There was a DQ near to my high school (the DQ has since been closed down-- I think it's a Starbucks now) and my friend worked there. It is probably the only DQ where you could ask for a pickle Blizzard and get it. Actually, most people got them without having asked.

Anyway, thinking back on DQ I started to get angry. Angry enough to send an impassioned email explaining to DQ proper franchising policy. I explained that DQ needed to seek out its roots. Shun the Chocolate Moo-Late, which incidentally comes in a size called Mega-Moo, and return to Peanut Buster Parfaits and the other treats that have become synonymous with DQ. I reasoned that when you go to a MacDonald’s, aside from certain regional considerations, you will always find the same menu. I could go to every MacDonald’s in the state and have the exact same menu. Satisfaction is deciding that you want a certain product, knowing where it is, going there and getting it. I explained that DQ is in a no-man's land, their Hot-Eats not well known enough to attract serious diners (especially their kids meals, which should be their first priority) and their ice-cream quality is not as good as other franchises like Baskin & Robins, Ben & Jerry’s, Hagen Daas, or even local ice cream parlors. But they do have signature Cool Treats, something MOST other ice cream parlors can't boast. I wanted to make sure that they knew that product quality didn't even have to improve. It was a moving and insightful plea.

The response I received:

hank you for contacting International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) with your concerns regarding the availability of the cherry and butterscotch cone coating at your local Dairy Queen® restaurants.
As you may already know, the majority of Dairy Queen restaurants throughout the United States are independently owned and operated franchises. This being the case, product availability is ultimately left up to the discretion of the franchise operator. Our cherry and butterscotch cone coating are system-wide approved products, although it is not a required, core menu item. Again, the final determination whether or not to offer these flavors of cone coating is made at the restaurant level by the franchise operator. If you have not already done so, please let your local Dairy Queen operators know how much you enjoy, and now miss, our cherry and butterscotch cone coating.
Thank you, once again, for taking the time to share your concerns regarding this product availability issue. We truly hope you will continue to patronize our franchised restaurants and give us the opportunity to serve you again in the near future.
Best regards,
Allison Eicher
Consumer Relations Assistant
International Dairy Queen, Inc.
allison.eicher@idq.com http://www.dairyqueen.com/

I was tempted to respond, "WHAT ABOUT CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM???" I mean seriously, what the hell is on the 'core menu' if CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM isn't on there?

Anyway, I used the handy franchise finder on their website and phoned every DQ within 45 minutes of my house (something like 25), might I add I live in a major metropolitan city. So guess how many DQs have the butterscotch dipped cone. TWO. TWO and they are both in the SAME suburb of a completely DIFFERENT city. So the day before yesterday my roommate and I drive all the way to Kirkland (40 minutes) for cones and when we arrive we tell the astonished employees that yes, we are taking a picture of the cone so that we can prove to EVERY DQ in Seattle that it does TOO exist.

Additional thoughts on International Dairy Queen Inc.:
You guys own ORANGE JULIUS!?! What the hell? Do you specialize in restaurants where the food is absolutely inedible? How can you make money selling weenies in the mall? The only thing ANYONE EVER orders there is the Strawberry Julius. You are COMPLETE idiots.

So, in conclusion, International Dairy Queen Inc. way to give it to the man! You show those successful fast food restaurants like MacDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Arby's, Jack in the Box, Taco Time, Carl's Junior, Popeye's, Kentucky Friend Chicken, and In and Out Burger that you don't have to kowtow to customers who demand product availability and good service!

DQ, I salute you!

No comments: