Don’t Read This if You Ever Want to Eat a Dairy Queen Blizzard Again

I dreaded writing this post because Dairy Queen Blizzards are my vice. In elementary school, my parents would take me to get one after special baseball games. In high school my friends and I would eat them once a week for lunch. As an adult, I saved up my calories for a once-a-year cookie dough Blizzard birthday treat. Obviously, there’s nothing redeeming, nutritionally, about a Blizzard. But when they introduced their new “mini” size in 2010, I couldn’t resist. They’re now a more regular part of my diet. Everything in moderation, right?


We’ve moved recently and now there’s a Dairy Queen a 10-minute walk away from our house. I’ve already gone twice this month, and I know it’s just too easy. I enjoyed a Banana Cream Pie Blizzard last week, knowing it would likely be my last. Then I looked up the nutritional information.

Here’s the size of a mini Blizzard – how many calories do you think could hide in there? For reference, it’s 6 ounces (referenced by a DQ employee in the comments here). For scale, here’s how 6 ounces of ice cream look in my hand.

Dairy Queen Blizzard - mini size

For comparison,

  • 6 ounces banana = 1 very large banana = 151 calories
  • 6 ounces chocolate soft serve ice cream (no toppings) = 272 calories
  • 6 ounces cooked whole wheat pasta (plain) = 211 calories

Any guesses?

For any flavour (chocolate, cookie dough, fruit, you name it) it’s around 400 calories.

And – take a deep breath – here is the monster list of ingredients.

I’ve italicized those that are blatantly artificial. When sugar’s the most innocuous ingredient in a recipe, that’s not saying much for the final product.

Banana: Banana (thank goodness!)

Banana Cream Pie Mix: Sugar, Cornstarch, Dextrose, Modified Cornstarch, Salt, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Polysorbate 60, Carrageenan, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.

Dairy Queen Vanilla Soft Serve: Modified milk ingredients, sugar, glucose, mono and diglycerides, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan and artificial flavour.

Pie Pieces: Unenriched Wheat Flour, Margarine (Palm Oil, Water, Soybean Oil, Mono- and Diglycerides, Artificial Flavor[Milk], Colored with Annatto, Calcium Disodium EDTA added as a preservative, Vitamin A Palmitate added), Sugar, Pasteurized Eggs, Water, Sodium Propionate (Preservative), Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), TBHQ (Antioxidant).

Whipped Topping: General label declaration, ingredients may vary by supplier. Water, high fructose, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, contains less than 2% of the following: sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), dextrose, artificial flavor, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, xanthan gum, guar gum, colored turmeric and annatto extracts


The thing with Dairy Queen is that it doesn’t fill you up. Which makes sense, because it’s empty calories (sugar, modified sugar, modified oils, artificial thickeners, and colours), not real food. That’s good news for Dairy Queen – you’ll buy more. Larger sizes, more often. And maybe buy a “meal” (hamburger and fries) first.

If you eat a large Blizzard instead of a mini, it’s upwards of 1,000 calories (or about half of what most people need in a day) that just doesn’t fill you up like 1,000 calories of real food.

What are the alternatives to Dairy Queen? Well you can count soft serve out. I’ve been suspicious since I saw one of the young ladies working at the corner store dump a big bag of powdered stuff into the soft serve machine. Sure enough, soft serve is mostly sugar and corn syrup. Check this wholesale package out – the only milk product in there is sodium caseinate (a milk by-product…or is it?). Gotta’ love our friend Google for making this type of information easily accessible.

To add insult to what I feel is the personal injury (since I love Blizzards), the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, a reputable non-profit food advocacy group, called out Blizzards in their latest issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter. CSPI focuses on the nutrients in a large (“the calories and saturated fat of three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese”) but also notes the questionable ingredients like the Turtle Pecan Cluster flavour’s chocolate coating (“mostly coconut oil, sugar, modified palm oil, and cocoa”).

I think I should post it on my fridge.

Resources & further reading:


  1. I have to be really hungry to eat a Dairy Queen blizzard. For a couple of hours, I feel uncomfortably full after eating one. It’s just not worth it, so I don’t have them very often at all.

  2. Mono and diglycerides are not good…they’re very similiar to hydrogenated oil…I think a lot of manufacturers are ‘onto’ the fact that the majority of people know the dangers of consuming hydrogenated oil so they just fiqure, oh we’ll just use this instead (mono and diglycerides) thinking they’ll pull the wool over people’s eyes.

  3. Here’s an excellent article as well…

    Hydrogenated Oils-Silent Killers
    by columnist, David Lawrence Dewey
    © copyrighted 1998
    Be sure to also read… Hydrogenated Oils-Silent Killers

    David Lawrence Dewey was the first journalist to raise the warning flag to consumers concerning the deadly health effects of hydrogenated oils in 1996.

    The article is the most comprehensive and extensive article on the net about hydrogenated oils. The article explains what they are, when they started being used, and the deadly effects they cause from coronary heart disease, to diabetes type II, to cancer and autoimmune diseases. It has been read by over 25 million people worldwide.

    Provided are numerous references and links to research studies from Harvard Medical Research, The Helsinky Institute and other reputable research centers around the world. The article has been read by over 42 million readers since 1996 and is continuously being updated. Make sure you read the updates at the end of the column.

    Make sure you read Dewey’s column as well above after reading the information below.

    Just a New Name to Disquise An Old Silent Killer – Hydrogenated Oils

    First, let me make it clear, mono-diglycerides are nothing more than hydrogenated oils. There are those that will say I do not know what I am talking about concerning this new name the food industry is using for hydrogenated oils, but let me assure you, mono-diglycerides are hydrogenated before separated into mono-diglyceridies. The “mono” means they are a combination of various oils mixed together, hydrogenated, then certain fatty acids called diglycerides are then separated out. It is truly amazing how many people when confronted with the truth will still try to convince others the opposite of the truth.

    Mono-diglycerides remain the most widely used emulsifiers in food production. They are called mono-digylcerides because they are made from oils that have a high mono saturated fat content, but they are still hydrogenated. These are used in a wide variety of food manufacturing such as, breads, bagels, muffins, cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, pasta mixes, potato chips, ice creams, almost all packaged desserts, nearly all margarines and other spreads. Your local grocery bakery including Walmart bakeries use these oils. New margarine spreads Benecol™ and Take Control™ contain hydrogenated oils . Just read your label. Remember…its’ your health!

    There are many food oil companies that produce mono-diglyerides. So when you read mono-diglycerides on packaged foods, it is nothing more than hydrogented oils. Below is a sample of one product listings from Gillco, oils manufactured by Quest International, one of the largest food oil producing companies worldwide. Gillco’s url address is They sell mono-diglycerides using these names, Myverol®, Myvacet®, Myvatex®, Myvaplex® and they stipulate on the company’s fact sheet that they are “hydrogenated”.

  4. You mean Blizzards aren’t for dieting!? What the hell? I wanted to be DQ’s Jared (without all the weird kid stuff)
    Great…back to the vision board, again.

    • Hi there,

      I know you’re being cheeky but I think it’s worth pointing out that I don’t believe you ever have to diet if you put only real food in your body – and that includes having the occasional ice cream – as long as it’s made with real ingredients.


  5. I work at a DQ and our icecream is low-fat, at least at our place. Its peoples decisions to put in their bodies whatever they want. They dont have to get the bigger sized products! Oh no, too many calories? Go burn them after you eat there. We do have salads, wraps, chicken sandwiches are a nice alternative from burgers. I appreciate this post, but calm down. We have orange Julius’s and smoothys you can get instead of pop or moolattes, arctic rushes aren’t that bad either. Go make a post about mcdonalds, they dont have the healthiest good either. They’re both fast food places, get over it. It isn’t supposed to be a Gourmet healthy restaurant.

    • Hi Maw,

      I decided to list calories in this post to show how many can hide in such a small sized dessert, but that’s not really the point. I am much more concerned with whether the food I’m eating is REAL food. If you read the ingredient lists, Blizzards are clearly not real food.

      I believe that if you eat whole foods that are free of additives, preservatives, artificial colours, etc. you don’t need to count calories and you can most certainly “indulge” in things like full-fat yogurt and high-calories ice cream, as long as it’s made with cream and eggs, not modified milk ingredients and diglycerides.

      You’re right that nobody would consider Dairy Queen health food, but there are certainly better options if you’re craving ice cream.


  6. D Q makes sick and I was wondering why

  7. momma2two says:

    i don’t feel well after eating DQ either. Years ago, I never had a problem. Now, it actually makes my back (kidneys?) hurt. Very bizarre. And it happens every… single… time……No joke. I just can’t eat it. Real ice cream doesn’t bother me at all.

  8. James Hall says:

    Dr. Esselstyn on youtube about fats and oils added to our diet. You want to know the truth? Watch the videos and believe or not. Science done properly without the BS..

  9. Mike mckenna says:

    Tell Dairy Queen to remove all chemical substitutes for sucrose, I.e. Remove high fructose corn syrup and whatever the permitted alias is now, remove sucralose, reduce/remove the hydrogenated oils, and maybe we elderly will return with our kids, as customers…m.f.mckenna

  10. Thanks Jill… and it seems that Maw didn’t understand the purpose of the piece… But, why would a worker at a fastfood restaurant look for your blog and respond such? Doesn’t make much sense to me… My wife and I maintain an almost all natural diet and a very low carb diet… no wheat, very little canned food, no prepared foods… Most of what we eat we cook at home… But the other day right before our 13th wedding anniversary she noticed a sign infront of the local DQ we were passing on our way to our daily run that was advertising a peanut butter blizzard cake or something of the sort and we agreed to return on our anniversary or after running one of those days… We’ve been passing DQ almost every day for 4 years now… Yesterday was the second time we visited the store… The first time was on my birthday before a run 3 years ago… The problem is that after eating the small blizzards or after watching the vanilla icecream come out of the machine with its strangely creamy… overly creamy texture, I began wondering what was in the ice cream… and that’s how I stumbled across your blog… One can’t expect good things or healthy or natural ingredients in today’s prepared foods industry… Everything must be increasingly less expensive with an increased guarantee of uniformity; that texture and flavor doesn’t change EVER… and with ingredients that are less likely to spoil… I understand that, which helps me understand the risk… Almost 3 years of spending a ton of time investigating alternative health and nutrition, I’m also convinced that avoiding industrial oils and refined carbs AND GMO wheat (which means ALL wheat), we can maintain a stable weight by decreasing the production of Triglycerides in our liver; excess carbohydrates are converted to triglycerides and stored as fat in our midsection… But what probably causes the weight gain is inflamation caused by excess glucose and industrial vegetable oils… I’m almost positive that natural fats are first used for fuel and any excess passes through the digestive tract and deposited in the toilet bowl… Maw is incorrect in saying that the way to burn the calories of the blizzard is by exercising… 1,000 calories will not be burned running 5 miles… maybe if you run 15 miles… But, running 15 miles per day is not only dangerous for your heart, but not very realistic regarding time needed for running that distance… I don’t know if you’ve read “Salt, Sugar, Fat; how the food giants hooked us” by Michael Moss However, it is a very interesting look into the power and pervasiveness of not only the fastfood industry but the prepared foods industry… That they do have the option of creating healthier and more natural products. But the question in the end is that of both competitiveness and responsibility towards the shareholder… The problem is that most people aren’t informed about how what they place in their mouth affects their body (physical and mental health). And even if people were informed, most people are more worried about their capacity towards gratifying consumerism… How you feel the moment you eat your wonderful and horribly unhealthy blizzard is much more important than how you may feel 10 years down the road. I’m 47-years-old, grew up in northcentralwest New Jersey… I’m a Jersey boy at heart and grew up in-love with Roy Rogers fried chicken, Burger King whoppers, Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream and how many other things that we probably shouldn’t be eating… I went from being that typical Jersey Boy to being and international “chef”. I decided 25 years ago that it would be less expensive and healthier if I prepared it in my kitchen and I sought the most authentic recipe books for being able to learn how to cook almost anything from around the world. The problem with removing wheat products is that you remove at least 80% of the most beautiful foods from an international kitchen… All soy sauce has wheat by the way… So forget about Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai (bye bye Padh Thai!) and Vietnamese… That said, I am so much healthier… although saddened by not being able prepare my favorite foods… I live in Mexico and my business is a travelling coffee bar. My father-in-law is who cultivates the coffee we sell… Most of what we sell is way too high in sugar content for being healthy… However, the product is much more natural than what most coffee bars sell here in Mexico… Most frappes are prepared with artificial flavorings and stabilizers… I refuse to use stabilizers… are coffee flavors… My recipe calls for brewing coffee, sweetening it with standard sugar and cooling it in freezers… The sweetened coffee is then mixed with whole milk in the frappe machines and there you have it… And everyone says, “your frappe actually tastes like coffee! And is much better than the rest!” But it is not uniform without the stabilizers… So, maybe 1/3 of the frappe is more ice at the bottom, since the sugar and coffee separated from the frozen water as the frappe warmed and the customer pulled upon the denser part of the frappe through the straw… Now, if someone mentions that they are diabetic or their mother or wife is diabetic and which of the frappes has less sugar, I will say (if my wife doesn’t jump infront of me before I ruin a sale) that truthfully, if the person is diabetic, THE PARTY IS OVER, and they shouldn’t be drinking ANY frappe… and the only thing I would recommend is a black coffee… which doesn’t pay the bills as does a frappe… What is most important to me is that we find a market for my father-in-law’s coffee and that our client is getting the best quality product for their money when they are deciding to ignore the diet and splurge on something the makes them happy… when they would have bought a much worse product for their money, since they don’t look at us when they are thinking low-carb, healthfood… We were happy eating the Blizzard yesterday, especially with the whole peanuts and the chocolate chunks… We were aware somewhat of what we were placing in our bodies and understood that before eating the blizzard, we must run at least 40 minutes beforehand… But, the question was what were the true risks of eating the blizzard. And that’s how I found your blog. Thanks again for being honest and for sharing the response to your curiousity shared by us.

  11. I had a choclate sunday an didn’t eat it all an put it in freezer went back 2 days later to finish it off the ice cream was frozen but chocolate was still runny! What’s in that that makes it not freeze?

  12. LMAO why is water italicized? Why is Annatto italicized do you even know what Annatto is??? hahahahah

  13. There are some people with ethics who make their own soft serve mix for the machines. We make in our shop an Organic Gelato with Organic Whole Milk, Skim Milk Powder, Cane Sugar and Xanthan Gum. Then we have over fifty, all natural extracts to flavour the ice cream.

  14. As someone with a ton of bizarre allergies, I’m actually happy to find out that I can eat their ice cream without worrying about dying just from eating it. I’m very skeptical of anyone that claims any diet is good for all because that is the kind of thinking that thinks all fat people are evil and always unhealthy.


  1. […] Side note – Want to know what ingredients are in a Diary Queen Blizzard? (you may not want to) Read the article here: […]

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