Sweet memories for kids from backgrounds as diverse as toppings

Day campers learn about making ice cream

Twenty-eight kiddos skipped into the St. Louis Park Dairy Queen on Wednesday, July 25th, smiling wide and waving. That may sound pretty typical for a group of kids about to eat ice cream, but this wasn’t your average Dairy Queen outing. These youngins came from The Salvation Army’s Day Camp program in St. Paul—and from backgrounds as diverse as sundae toppings—for a special behind-the-scenes tour and lunch at the Grill and Chill location.

Wide-eyed and fired up, the energetic youth listened intently as their host, Manager Mike Salvatore (“Sal”), introduced them to Dairy Queen’s history, scope, and influence. “Did you know that Ray Kroc, the founder of the McDonalds chain, started off by working at a Dairy Queen?” Sal shared this fact and others, and then invited the kids to follow him behind the counter to see first-hand how it all works.

First stop after learning a bit about life as a cashier behind the counter: the cake decorating corner. Youthful faces watched in amazement as frosting created a design for their guessing pleasure. “Balls…No, balloons…Oh, it’s a clown!” shouted the kids with delight.

Sal guided the slightly giddy kids to the back of the facility to meet the largest refrigerator of their lives. They piled in, but weren’t inclined to spend much more than a minute in the unit—it was cold!

After learning all about where DQ’s buns, soda drinks, and chocolate, caramel, and other syrups come from, how onion rings, French fries, and burgers are made, and meeting Sal’s team, the kids were ushered back into the dining room. There they enjoyed hamburgers, fries, lots of ketchup, and the chance to pose in front of a camera. (View photos.)

When bellies had been filled and ketchup-y fingers licked, Sal gave them the sweet news their ears had been itching to hear: sundae time! Lined up and ready, each one took a bowl and, with the help of Sal and his team, filled it with ice cream, topped it with candies, and added a dose of whipped cream for style and fun. They showed off their creation and downed the sweet goodness with delight—words of appreciation, jokes, and laughter intermixed.

Just about to eat another spoonful, one boy burst out, “Three cheers for Dairy Queen!” Three others professed that, one day, they want to work at Dairy Queen—just like Sal. The DQ Grill and Chill was just that cool of a place.

With take-home goodies in hand, the young adventurers waved their goodbyes and gratitude as they headed back to St. Paul Citadel…bellies filled with yummy food and minds inspired.

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