Dairy Queen faces 'biggest test' hoping new hot treats make it a winter favorite


You might have noticed a few months back that Dairy Queen introduced some changes to its menu – described as the "biggest" changes in its 75-year history – and now it is facing the biggest test of its investment.

The Edina-based chain introduced ovens in its restaurants, meaning it can offer baked desserts for the first time through its "DQ Bakes!" range that includes things like a chocolate brownie, apple tart and fudge-stuffed cookie menu items, as well as "artisan-style" sandwiches and "snack melts."

The move was described during the summer as DQ's attempt to "broaden its appeal," but Bloomberg on Thursday revealed how important the changes are to Warren Buffet-owned DQ's wider plans to become the biggest player in America's fast food market.

Through its popular ice cream products, DQ has already carved out a massive slice of business during the warmer months – and its line of "Grillburgers" and chicken strip baskets already puts it up against fast food stalwarts like McDonald's, Burger King and KFC.

The addition of hot desserts and artisan sandwiches to its burger and chicken menu is DQ's attempt to be relevant all-year round, Bloomberg says, enticing customers in for hot treats during the winter months, before its frozen fare comes to the fore during the summer.

DQ's CEO John Gainor said it has already started to pay off, with same-store sales growing in September and October – with the sandwiches "doing especially well" – but the news services notes the "biggest test will come when winter sets in new month."

"The hope is new warm, fudge-stuffed cookies and chicken-bacon sandwiches will get customers to think of Dairy Queen when the weather turns cold," it writes.

Dairy Queen is managing to go from strength-to-strength even at a time when household names in the fast food market struggle in the face of competition from upstarts like Smashburger, Five Guys and Chipotle, the New York Times reports.

Bloomberg notes DQ's revenue rose 3.6 percent to $169.7 million last year with net income climbing 7.3 percent to $49.8 million.

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