To celebrate 75 years of frozen deliciousness, Dairy Queen is handing out small ice cream cones at participating DQ and DQ Grill & Chill locations today.
Guests can receive a small vanilla soft-serve cone and also have the opportunity to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, an organization that raises money to improve the lives of terminally ill children.
Dairy Queen was founded in Joliet, Ill. In 1940 and operates over 6,400 locations around the world today.
Of the top U.S. ice cream chains, only Dairy Queen has seen steady increases in its sales over the last 10 years, according to sales estimates by food industry research firm Technomic — though it’s also the only ice cream company with an extensive menu beyond the sweet stuff. Meanwhile, rival chains like Baskin-Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery are in decline as consumers turn towards healthier options like frozen yogurt, whose self-serve setups allow better control over price.
While offering promotional freebies can be a way to attract new customers, not every ice cream chain can afford that kind of a stunt. “The word ‘free’ probably has the strongest meaning in marketing, in terms of consumer behavior,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. “When you’re talking about Dairy Queen, you have a soft serve product, which is generally going to be be less expensive than a scooped product. It’s a more expensive push for other brands that are more premium, who may not get the most bang for their giveaway.”