A Small Good Thing

Last Licks

The 74-year-old Dairy Queen chain of soft-serve frozen treat outlets is finally opening in the Big Apple in late May


Life doesn’t get more exciting than this: DQ is coming to Manhattan.

Yes, that’s right, the 74-year-old Dairy Queen chain of soft-serve frozen treat outlets is finally opening in the Big Apple in late May. Now I’ll just be an easy subway ride away from cold tongue and sticky finger heaven.

The announcement, made late last month, thrilled anyone (and that’s pretty much everyone) who ever licked their way through a Dairy Queen cone or other “Scrumpdillyishus!” treat — yes, the phrase was trademarked by DQ back in 1973 — on a hazy, humid summer night.

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The new Manhattan DQ, located just off Fifth Avenue on W. 14th St., will be two stories high and offer seating for more than 100 soft serve-loving customers. (A DQ opened in New York City a year ago, but it’s on Staten Island, a long and inconvenient ferry ride away.)

What the DQ press release doesn’t say, and this is key, is whether there will be any outdoor seating. For the optimum summer DQ experience, a cone or other frozen delicacy has to be consumed outdoors, in the heat, preferably while sitting on an old, wooden picnic table into which way too many teenagers have carved their initials.

I speak from experience. When I was a kid growing up in central Pennsylvania, ice cream was a near nightly ritual in the summer. We’d either eat it at home for dessert after dinner at the picnic table in our backyard — you’d stir and stir and stir the ice cream in the bowl until it turned to soup — or all six kids and my parents would pile into the station wagon and drive to a nearby DQ or other soft-serve ice cream stand for a cone.


Then there was the summer that we were building our new house in the next town over. Every evening, after dinner, we’d drive out to the construction site, where my parents would check on the progress of the house while we kids reveled in sliding down the huge pile of dirt left over from the digging of the foundation. (I’d like to apologize here and now to my mother for all the laundry she had to do that summer.) Afterwards, on our way home, we’d always stop at John’s, a local farm stand and convenience store, and every kid would get a cone or an ice cream sandwich and then we’d eat them in the car in the parking lot with all the windows open.

Here’s the strange part: I don’t really much like ice cream these days. Sure, I’ll have a gelato when I’m in Italy but that’s about it. Now that I’m an adult, ice cream is too sweet for my taste buds and the calories aren’t worth it.

But that won’t keep me from taking every child and adolescent I know to the new DQ when it opens in Manhattan. As Gertrude Stein once almost said, “A cone is a cone is a cone,” and there’s nothing better than watching a kid getting in their first licks.

Tags: memoirs

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