Reviewer still falls for that old smoothie

All together now: You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!

I've waited months to review Dairy Queen because summer is the time to cool off. And if ever I needed to cool off, it was during this recent killer heat wave. And there's probably more in store. Great excuse for indulgence.

Since the opening of Dairy Queen's first restaurant in Joliet, Ill., in 1940, probably every small town teen has uttered the call, "Meet you at the DQ!" DQ is an American institution.

Dessert first - because ice cream is one of the main food groups. Isn't it?

When we were new in town, my hubby and I would go exploring. We would wait for the end of our day and finish off with a drive around the countryside. But first we'd make a beeline to Dairy Queen. We couldn't wait to get our hands on one of their cones, filled with creamy soft-serve vanilla and hand dipped in dark chocolate. Almost better than air conditioning.

Our drives became a fun race against time to see if we could finish our huge cones before the ice cream melted all over our hands.

Warning: wet wipes are a must under these circumstances.

Out front, DQ's message board touts current specials like the "Blizzard of the Month," their creamy smooth soft serve mixed with candy, cookies or fruit. Their Web site describes it this way: "The Blizzard add(s) up to one irresistible taste sensation."

No argument here. This month it's "Girl Scouts Thin Mint Cookie Blizzard Treat." A short while ago while driving past that board, it called to me, "Try our 'Choco Cherry Love Blizzard.'" This one had cherry flavoring and big chips of chocolate - what you might call a poor man's Cherry Garcia for you Ben & Jerry's fans.

Dinner wasn't far off but I just couldn't help myself. I ordered a large. I didn't tell my girlfriend about my detour until well after the fact; she would've wanted one too. I felt sooo guilty. But not enough to wait.

Aren't drive-thrus wonderful? Calories brought right to your car.

DQ's handout menu lists 21 Blizzards (63 if you count small, medium and large). And, of course, you can mix and match your own. The possibilities are endless. And it's so popular, Blizzards have their own fan club and even a Blizz Buds blog fer gosh sakes.

I always ask for a copy of the menu for research. My research showed there are nearly 400 entries. There are ice cream treats including Arctic Rush; their semifrozen fruit slush (Greg's lemon lime was very refreshing), malts and shakes, sundaes, cones, waffle treats, novelties, cakes and "local menu treats" - in addition to those Blizzards.

But there's more to life than just desserts (what a shame).

There are plenty of "predessert" items like burgers, grilled sandwiches, baskets (chicken strips, veggie quesadillas and popcorn shrimp), hot dogs, "local menu" items (BBQ beef and pork sandwiches), corn dogs, crispy fish and shredded chicken sandwiches. Of course there are sides, like chili cheese fries and onion rings (awesome), and kids' meals. And beverages with free refills. Some offerings are Coke and Diet Coke (rare at restaurants in these here parts), Dr. Pepper, Barq's and Mountain Dew. And lots of "MooLattes.

The day Greg and I dined at the DQ, I ordered a standard "Grillburger" with onion rings; and Greg ordered fries and the Iron Grilled Turkey Sandwich with a slice of ultra crisp bacon on nicely grilled sourdough bread.

As with all fast food restaurants, portion control is important to their profit margin. And I would say Dairy Queen is seriously into portion control. So, one must do what one can to deal with tiny packets of mustard and ketchup.

My ritual in such cases involves opening all packets en masse. So once I get down to business, I don't have to waste time loading up with more supplies. It's a veritable conveyor belt of fries and onion rings (think Lucy and Ethel).

I must've used 25 packets of ketchup. (Note to self: pack a pair of scissors in my purse. Opening 25 packets is hard on the old front teeth.)

DQ's decor is bright, colorful and cheery. The sit-down area is fairly large with lots of booths. Their staff is young and eager. Their bathrooms are clean (if not stylish).

In 2005, the World's Largest Blizzard treat was built in Springfield, Mass. It weighed more than 8,000 pounds.

While I haven't eaten that much ice cream - in one sitting - over the years I'm sure that record was long ago surpassed.

Interested to learn more about the history of Dairy Queen? Check out www.dairy

Shelley Taylor and her husband relocated to the peninsula from California. By her own admission, Taylor likes to eat.

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