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New treats! Dairy Queen introduces 'DQ Bakes,' chain's largest-ever menu expansion

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When you're looking for a treat, you'll soon find a menu full of new options that are arriving at the nation's Dairy Queen outlets. The items on the new DQ Bakes menu include entrees with more complex flavor profiles and desserts that come out of the oven.

The Star Tribune said the Minnesota-based restaurant company will begin airing TV commericals next month, promoting DQ Bakes items like the Turkey BLT, Chicken Quesadilla and Triple Chocolate Brownie a la Mode. In all, the DQ Bakes menu features nine new options that are evenly split among three categories: snack melts, “artisan-style” hot sandwiches and hot desserts that come with DQ's signature soft-serve ice cream.

The DQ Bakes menu is arriving in time for the chain's 75th birthday. It represents the chain’s largest-ever menu expansion.

Back in April, restaurant industry publication Brand Eating noted that Dairy Queen, which was purchased by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway company in 1998, had begun to "quietly roll out" the new menu, with items that are baked in turbo convection ovens, like those found at fast food competitors Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, and Subway.

The Star Tribune story said that means franchisees with invest from $6,500 to $15,000 for the oven systems.

In June, Reuters reported the company had created the DQ Bakes! Institute at the company’s Edina headquarters, to teach franchisees about recipes and how to prepare new menu items.

Starting this fall, Dairy Queen will buy advertising year-round for the first time. Currently, about 55 percent of Dairy Queen sales come from treats, with the remaining 45 percent from fast food.

Unlike most franchised restaurant chains, Dairy Queen offerings vary from place to place. Thanks to franchise agreements reached years ago, some DQ's offer a menu filled with unique options. For example, the Dairy Queen in Moorhead is a throwback to the early days of DQ, featuring items not available at modern “Grill and Chill” outlets. Popular mainstays include the “Monkey Tail,” a chocolate-covered frozen banana, and "Mr. Malties," chocolate malt on a stick that was a DQ mainstay in the ’50s.

The additions to the DQ Bakes menu are made-to-order Hot Desserts à la Mode, Artisan-style Sandwiches and Snack Melts. The desserts are Triple Chocolate Brownie, Apple Tart and Fudge Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie; Artisan-style sandwiches are Chicken Bacon Ranch, Chicken Mozzarella and Turkey BLT; and snack melts are Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Bacon BBQ and Chicken Quesadilla.

With 249 outlets, Minnesota is tied with Ohio for the third largest number of Dairy Queen stores. Only Texas, with 578, and Illinois, with 262 stores, have more DQs.

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