The Triumphant Return of the Dairy Queen to Baton Rouge

Dairy Queen in Baton Rouge

Published April 15, 2013

When I was 6 years old, my mother ran into my room and said, “Ronald Reagan just called. Unless we go to the Dairy Queen right now and have a banana split, space aliens are going to attack earth.” I had been charged with saving our planet. So I did what any dutiful young American would do—I put on my shoes and went in search of flying saucers and banana splits. The Dairy Queen and I saved the world that day.

Yes, it is a fast food chain, but the local Dairy Queen in Clinton, Miss., had a heart and a soul that McDonald’s and Burger King could never possess. Our Chihuahua, Buddy, would ride in the car with us to get a take-out quart of soft serve and faithfully guard the container all the way home. Then he would sit in the pocket of my father’s robe and wait patiently for him to share.

Every December 26th, my mom would present me with a banana split with candles for my birthday. This ridiculous concoction was never long for this world and barely made it past the photo-op of me blowing out my candles as they teetered in a soupy mixture of chocolate syrup, pineapple, strawberries and cream.

Eventually my tastes became more sophisticated and I traded my beloved banana splits for a new concoction called a Snickers Blizzard. Dairy Queen just made our family happy. When we cleared out my grandmother’s house after we moved her to a retirement home, I found an entire kitchen drawer filled with Dairy Queen’s signature red plastic spoons with the emblem of an ice cream cone pressed into the handle. As I threw them out along with plastic bags filled with dryer lint and boxes of Harlequin historical romance novels, I imagined the high point of most days for my grandmother had been sitting in her recliner while eating parfaits and reading soft-core porn that featured poorly written facsimiles of Scarlett O’Hara.

The return of Dairy Queen to Baton Rouge fills a nostalgic culinary need in me. The burgers still have that great char-grilled taste and the magical item known as a dip cone is still on the menu. Children can watch while their ice cream cone is turned upside down and coated with chocolate sauce that miraculously dries to form a protective coating in about 15 seconds. I like to think that—in spite of the fact that today’s children are over-stimulated and extraordinarily savvy—being handed a chocolate-covered ice cream cone makes them smile.

On my most recent trip, I ordered a banana split Blizzard. And when the cashier brought it out, I made him turn it upside down to ensure its thickness. Baton Rouge’s Dairy Queen can be found at 3444 South Sherwood Forest Boulevard. (225) 636-2140.