Monday, September 10, 2012

Dairy Queen


101 South Truman Boulevard
Crystal City Mo.


Starting in 1957, DQ’s that served burgers added the word ‘brazier’ to their signage. The word referred to a machine developed by one of their franchisees that allowed standard cooking temperatures and times for all stores. The word is largely no longer used, considered outdated back in the 80’s and 90’s. It is not known to this reporter whether the braziers themselves were discarded, whether or not all the stores are now brazier-less. Perhaps they were burned in a symbolic gesture of rebellion. No one really knows for sure. I’m confident that the real story of the brazier, were it actually known, would be uplifting though. (I deliberately avoided prolonging  this silly shtick by not saying anything about how hard it was to remove the braziers, you know, in the dark, with one hand, etc. You can thank me later.) 
The real burning question in your mind must be though: “Why did you go to the DQ in Festus/Crystal City since there’s one in Hillsboro that you have to actually drive right past to get to Festus/Crystal City?”
Fair question. Angel (in charge of this expedition) explained it this way. “We’re going to Blockbuster anyhow and also, I want to see if the DQ fries in the Twin Cities are any better than the DQ fries in Hillsboro.”
Good enough for me. 
The Place:
Located near Lam’s Chinese in downtown Festus/Crystal City. I can barely tell where Festus leaves off and Crystal City begins. They are often referred to as the 'Twin Cities' but since the borders are indistinguishable without complex surveying equipment and archaic plot maps, in my mind the two towns are more like 'Conjoined Twin Cities'.
From the outside it looks exactly like a Dairy Queen. An outdoor patio with a tropical setting, palm tree, umbrellas, etc. Inside I was quite surprised to see a large stonework mantel and fireplace. I'm not sure why, but it was attractive. Above the mantel was mounted a large flat-screen TV playing a sports channel. On the mantel itself were some plaques and awards, none of which I bothered to examine. They might have been insurance policies and restraining orders as far as I know.
We placed our order, I'd made a conscious decision to get a burger without bacon since I always get a burger with bacon and thought I'd mix it up a bit. Angel and Adam ordered their picks and we poured our drinks and found a seat. I tasted the tea and choked on the bitterness of it so I filled my cup with Pepsi instead. Adam brought paper cups filled with ketchup. As we sat Adam made the observation that there were bottles of ketchup and mustard already at the table. "They don't have ketchup at the table at Hillsboro." Angel said. This would be the start of the inevitable comparison between the two stores. I asked and Angel told me that Hillsboro doesn't have a fireplace either.
In the meantime, several packs of large motorcycles roared by the nearby intersection. Sure it was a nice weekend, but large packs of large men on large motorcycles is quite audibly intrusive. We weren't even outside but still had to talk loudly to each other to overcome the immature and needless roar of the massive bikes. There is no technical reason a large Harley has to be louder than a mid-sized automobile. They are deliberately loud. Why, I am not quite sure. Some would call it compensation, others would cite an adrenalin rush. All I get from it though is immature and self-administered testosterone fulfillment. For people (bikers) who (stereo)typically claim they want freedom, liberty and to be simply left alone, their sheer intrusive and overt and unnecessary loudness belies their concern for those same rights and privileges for others around them. (gratuitous soap-boxing)
The Food:
Mine: Grillburger with cheese.
As I said, I'd ordered a Grillburger with cheese, and for a whopping fifty nine cents replaced the fries with onion rings. Angel took the Bacon Cheese Grillburger and fries, Adam, always the daring and adventurous rebel, asked for the Flamethrower Chicken sandwich, fried, with fries.
It didn't take long at all for the food to arrive, it was delivered to us within about five minutes of sitting down.
Angel's: Bacon Cheese Grillburger
I unwrapped mine, took the photos, then peeled back the bun on mine to see if it needed a condiment. Then a funny thing happened. I found bacon on my burger. I looked over at Angel's, hers had bacon as well. The only difference I could see between the two was that Angel's bacon was protruding from the side of the bun, mine wasn't.  I was a little disappointed, they'd got my order wrong. However, if you are going to get an order wrong, adding bacon where none was asked for is certainly the better direction to go. As you, my loyal fans know, I am not bacon-averse at all. So I did not report the egregious infraction, I just chalked it up to fate.
Later I did some research. On the DQ website I found that I had NOT been given the wrong burger. Compare the actual descriptions and photos from the DQ site:

(Photos and descriptions below are taken directly from http://www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/Menu/Food/

Grillburger with cheese
One ¼ lb.* 100% beef burger topped with melted cheese, crispy bacon, thick-cut tomato, fresh green leaf lettuce, pickles, onions, ketchup and mayo served on a warm toasted bun.




Bacon Cheese Grillburger
One ¼ lb.* 100% beef burger topped with melted cheese, crispy bacon, thick-cut tomato, fresh green leaf lettuce, pickles, onions, ketchup and mayo served on a warm toasted bun.




This seemed bizarre to me. Why was there bacon on a burger that didn't mention bacon in its name and also did not show it in the official photo of the burger?
So, risking going all Woodward and Bernstein, I felt I needed to investigate this curiosity. So I called DQ headquarters and was told by a pleasant sounding machine that I was calling outside normal business hours. The machine did give me a toll-free number to call. So I did.
'Nick' answered and I told him that I was curious about the difference between the two burgers. He put me on hold while he consulted his 'knowledge base'. Apparently my call was very important to them, they even said so.
"The only difference is the bacon." he said.
"Not according to the descriptions listed on the web site." I replied, backing him into a corner.
A long pause. "Hmmm., I see." He answered.
"There's bacon on both." I accused.
"That may vary according to franchise." He tried.
"But it's on the DQ corporate web site." I countered.
"I don't know why that is." Nick sounded frustrated.
I let him off the hook telling him I had no actual complaint, that I was simply curious. I could tell I had all the information he could give me without management involvement. I'll send a corporate query later.
Digging further into the posted nutrition information I noticed that the 'bacon' named burger actually had more calories, more calories from fat, etc, as one might expect form a bacon burger vs.one not so named. But not by much. I came to the conclusion that the actual difference was only the amount of bacon.

Flamethrower Chicken
Back to the meal.
I  was a little disappointed with the number of onion rings, it seemed kind of stingy. I hadn't super-sized though, if such a thing even exists at DQ, so once again I just let it go. Adam's Flamethrower looked exactly like a chicken patty sandwich, though he said it indeed had some heat. "One of my favorite fast-food chicken sandwiches." He said. He'd had them before.
This started a discussion of fast food burger joints, and we came up with a list that we all pretty much agreed with. Our favorites, from most to least are:
Jack in the Box
Hardees
McDonalds
Dairy Queen
Wendy's
Burger King
Almost anything else actually somewhat edible including road kill, tree bark and rotting algae.
White Castle

Personally, I'd put Hardees as number one, their Frisco burger is my all time favorite among the listed chains and their breakfast biscuits are awesome. I'd also drop McD's below DQ and Wendy's, simply because I dislike McD's for philosophical, moral and ethical reasons. Angel pointed out that their fries are superior, I couldn't disagree.
But we all agreed that Dairy Queen was not among the top favorites on anyone's list.
I thought about it and concluded that DQ's burgers NEED bacon to give them flavor, the blend of beef by itself is flat, and tasteless.
Summary:
I didn't quite finish my burger, more because of the bloating nature of the Pepsi than anything else. However it still wasn't anything to write home about. If you compare the 'official' photos to the 'actual' you will see that the firm, bright and perky official photo hardly resembles the real deal. In fact the burger I got was rather flaccid, damp and puny. Angel did like the fries at this place better than those in Hillsboro though, speaking of flaccid. She and Adam had lunched there earlier in the week, another reason for driving ten extra miles this trip, and had already mentioned her ongoing disappointment  with Hillsboro's under-cooked fries.
The tab came to pocket change over twenty dollars. The store was quite clean, we even witnessed a young lady sweeping the floors twice while we were there.
All in all, not a really bad experience and DQ is rightfully famous for its ice cream treats, not its burgers, but if they want to compete with the others in that arena, they are going to have to up their game quite a bit.
As for the bacon thing, I'll do some more investigating. There's something going on here and I will not sleep until I get to the bottom of it.





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