We were first Dairy Queen fans

August 1, 2018

Dairy Queen is a famous restaurant chain that uses the advertising phrase, “Fan food, not fast food.’’

That fan base stretches across the world. Guess where its roots can be traced to? Right here in Kankakee.

Eighty years ago, on Aug. 4, 1938, Sherm Noble first sold the soft serve ice cream that became a Dairy Queen staple out of his Kankakee store at 255 S. West Ave.

The soft-serve formula was developed earlier that year by Iowa residents John Fremont “J.F.” “Grandpa” McCullough and his son, Alex. They convinced friend and loyal customer Noble to sell the concoction, and their teamwork obviously worked.

Noble sold 1,600 servings of the new dessert in two hours, and a whole lot more has been sold in the years since.

Within a year, Noble and the McCulloughs opened the first Dairy Queen store in Joliet. There now are 6,400 such sites.

Nine of these stores still are owned by the Noble family. There are two in Kankakee and Aurora, and one each in Bourbonnais, Manteno, Momence, Geneva and Batavia.

In honor of the 80th anniversary of soft serve’s debut, the Noble-owned stores will offer 5-ounce dishes of the delicacy for just 10 cents from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. That price is in line with what those customers paid in 1938.

So, get a bite of a bargain, and also get a healthy serving of nostalgia along with it. The fan food was first found here.

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