All my life, or for all of it that I can remember living in Gilmer, there was one Dairy Queen. It was owned by the same family that owned the only (and last) picture show in town. Aimless high school kids up to no good, including me, would spend endless hours cruising a figure 8 from the DQ to the courthouse square and back. Once when an uncle was visiting from Memphis, we were all in a car together and we marveled that there was a new red light at the Dairy Queen. "New light at the Dairy Queen!" we heard him whisper to his wife.
Today there's a new new light (a mast arm no less) on a wider highway, and the DQ has morphed into a forlorn-looking Chinese buffet. The county jail, which began by taking over a Safeway and then colonized the entire block into one big concrete block, looms over it. So much has changed in my little town, not all of it for the good.
Luckily, on the road between Gilmer and Tyler there are at least three Dairy Queens. The other night on the way home from the hospital, I stopped in at one of them for a Blizzard. The Blizzard was invented 20 years ago, which means it is new to me (I left DQ Country well before that). I had no idea--so many choices! Luckily Eric Muller steered me in the right direction: the chocolate chip blizzard. It's kind of like the original DQ soft ice cream cones with the chocolate they would pour on top that would harden to the shape of the ice cream. That was great, but when you had eaten off all of the chocolate, well, you were out of chocolate. The "chips" in the chocolate chip Blizzard are made from taking the hardened chocolate shell and blending it all up with the ice cream. (The chips that keep on giving.) I'd call this an improvement.
Now, there is a whole ritual that goes along with making the Blizzard. I paid careful attention that the chips were the real thing as Eric had described, but I'm not entirely sure that the man who served it to me actually turned it upside-down before he gave it to me to confirm its firmness. I kind of think he did, but I'm going to have to try another one to make sure.
UPDATE: Bottom's up! In Tyler, they do it by the book. Yum.