I’ll be honest. I was never a Dairy Queen kid. My childhood was not filled with sticky hands holding colorful Dipped Cone dripping down wrists or the thrill that comes with seeing an upside down blizzard. I never felt the excitement that most kids feel when their parents say they can get a treat at DQ after a sweaty tee-ball game. To be fair, there wasn’t a DQ location near my hometown, but I’ve been on this earth for nearly three decades thinking my life was full and happy.

But when I received an email inviting me to the Dairy Queen headquarters in Minneapolis, I instantly felt that excitement I imagine DQ kids feel. It was as if I was waiting my whole life for this and my parents finally said we can go.

Felicia LaLomia

After a glorious tour of the test kitchen and a few taste tests of some secret menu item in development, I found myself having lunch at the DQ Chill & Grill. I won’t lie. I went a little crazy with the savory items and my table quickly filled with the Stackburgers, fries, Cheese Curds, onion rings, Chicken Strip Basket, cups of country gravy and queso, honey mustard and marinara. A quick glance across the spread, and I knew exactly what I wanted to start with — the Cheese Curds.

Here's why you need DQ Cheese Curds in your life.

Now, I’m a cheese girl through and through. So this will come as a surprise to no one. But the Cheese Curds are absolutely legit. By looks alone, they are gorgeous. Fried up to a deep golden tan with little strings of cheese peeking out. They are fresh and hot, and if you eat them pretty quickly, you can get a killer cheese pull. You can dip them in the marinara like a square, but I got creative and dipped them into the honey mustard. I could (and probably will) write a love letter to these curds. They are easily worth a trip to DQ and something I would order along with any of the sweet treats.

Do not sleep on the DQ sides and sauces.

The onion rings are also not something to skip. They are crunchy, well-seasoned, and don’t get all stringy and separated from the crispy coating. My favorite thing to do was to dip them into the country gravy or queso. Which brings me to the sleeper hits of the meal — the sauces. The honey mustard, country gravy, zesty queso, and marinara are all so good.

The Backyard Bacon Ranch Signature Stackburger is a burger for the maximalist. It’s got two patties, onion rings, honey barbecue sauce, House Made Hidden Valley Ranch, cheddar cheese, and bacon. It’s got a lot going on, but it all works together. The fries are also up there in my top five fast food fries.

Felicia LaLomia

Did you know DQ has a pretzel? Well, you should, because it is so different from any other chain pretzel. It comes with the zesty queso I was previously raving about, which is a bold choice for a sauce accompaniment for the Pretzel Sticks. But it all works really well together. The Pretzel Stick is on the breadier side, with a dough more similar to a doughnut and a slight sweetness to match. The brightness of the white queso balances that out nicely.

Felicia LaLomia

You probably have noticed that I’ve said very little about the DQ treats. That’s because my afternoon was filled with blizzards, Dipped Cones, and shakes back in the test kitchen. I entered the space after lunch in a total food coma slump and left bouncing off the walls after trying a dozen desserts. Here were some of my favorites.

These are the best DQ treats.

The summer menu, which recently came out, includes the Picnic Peach Cobbler, Brownie Batter, and Frosted Animal Cookie blizzards, along with others. The peach flavor is subtle but truly fruity with nice chunks of cobbler throughout. The brownie batter flavor is from the DQ freezer, the chain’s collection of past flavors they have started to bring back, and is for the one who has no shame licking the batter bowl. The batter mix-in has the exact texture and flavor of actual brownie batter, and they do not skimp on the cocoa. But my favorite was the frosted animal cookie flavor. Not only did they nail the flavor, but it transported me right back to my childhood, eating those cookies after school in the backyard. Plus, it’s pink. The Confetti Cake Dipped Cone is gorgeous, with colorful flecks of sprinkles on a creamy white coating. The flavor was incredibly sweet but does taste exactly like Funfetti frosting.

Felicia LaLomia

It wouldn’t be a day at DQ without a classic vanilla cone. I was even able to try my hand at making the iconic DQ curl. It tasted good, but I definitely need some more practice.

Felicia LaLomia

It took me almost 30 years to try Dairy Queen for the first time. And I can say with confidence, it probably won’t be another week before I head to my closest location for Cheese Curds and a Frosted Animal Cookie blizzard.