There's been a lot of talk over the last year about McDonalds' encroachment on Starbucks turf what with their fancy lattes and such. Conveniently forgotten is the way McD took on Dairy Queen by introducing the McFlurry to compete with the hallowed Blizzard. At the time, Blizzard enthusiasts -- of which I am by birth -- scoffed at the easy imitator. McD proved us all wrong, and it has become a frequent substitute for diet Coke in a Big Mac value meal by all of us. But is it better than the Blizzard? Consider the following.
Dairy Queen uses better ice cream. This fact is incontrovertible. But we're not talking pure quality here. I mean, you could smash up a handful of Oreos and toss it with spam and I'd still finish what you put in front of me. What's more important than quality of ice cream is the final product's consistency.
A Blizzard/McFlurry should be thick enough for me to turn upside down and not lose a drop. On this mark, McDonalds has DQ beat. Not every time, mind you, but the quality of a Blizzard varies widely from location to location. The DQ in Pullman, for example, is great. The DQ in Ellensburg? Legendary. Pass on the lid and you'll have a heaping, thick Blizzard that will get you almost to Vantage. But for whatever reason, some DQs fall flat. The Silverdale DQ, for example, served me what amounted to little more than a milk shake on a recent visit. McFlurries are always thick, if frequently under mixed. (You may have picked up on all the out-of-town locals. The closest DQ to Seattle is in White Center, another strike against in my book.)
But where DQ deals McD the death blow is in the area of toppings and variety. Sure, 99 times out of 100 you're going to go with Oreo, and maybe a dash of mint for variety. But holy crap does a strawberry banana Blizzard hit the spot every once in a while. At McD you've got Oreo, M&Ms, and sometimes another candy bar (Reeses Peanut Butter Cups).