Summertime Soft Serve with Dairy Queen

When soft-serve ice cream was first produced in 1938, there was no Dairy Queen. John “Grandpa” Fremont and Bradley McCullough developed the formula for this summer favorite and convinced a friend, Sherb Noble to test it in his Kankakee, IL, ice cream parlor. Noble sold 1,600 servings for 10¢ each in just two hours! The trial was a definite success! Because McCullough deemed that the cow was the queen of the dairy industry, name “Dairy Queen” was chosen. The first Dairy Queen ice cream stand opened in 1940 and today there are over 6,000 locations in 30 countries.

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Department 56 designed a ceramic version of one of the earliest ‘drive-in” versions to celebrate the 75th birthday of the company. A retro highway billboard designed to look like the drive-in is also available. Other cleverly designed accessories and a new North Pole “Cone House” have been added this summer. When used together, these pieces allow collectors to create a small stand-alone display, or add the pieces they like to their existing Village display.

Starting with the simple soft-serve cone with the trade-mark curly Q one top, Dairy Queen has developed a number of fan favorite frozen treats including the “Dilly Bar” (1955), “Peanut Buster Parfait” (1973), the Dairy Queen Cake (1981) and the “Blizzard” (1985). All of these, and more were inspiration for our designers to create a  collection of blown glass, hand painted ornaments and are available to enjoy on your Christmas tree (and they won’t melt!).

Did you know:

dq_vintageThe state where there are the most DQ franchises are located, is Texas.
• Dairy Queen was one of the first companies in the US to offer franchises of their business to prospective owners.
• Dairy Queen® soft serve contains 5% butter fat and has only 140 calories per creamy 1/2 cup.
• All Dairy Queen soft serve is stored at 18 degrees F rather than the normal 0 degrees that is required for regular ice cream products. This is why you can dig in to a DQ treat as soon as it is in your hands.
• The world’s largest Dairy Queen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The two-level restaurant is 7,500 square feet and can easily seat 240 customers.
• The number one selling Blizzard is Green Tea (sold only in China) followed by Oreo, a favorite here in the United States.


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Finding Sasquatch

Village SasquatchWhatever you believe, Sasquatch sightings can be fun, so Department 56 has designed and introduced a ceramic Sasquatch figure to have fun with in your Village – no matter what Village you collect.

Many collectors host parties and open houses inviting family, friends and fellow collectors to view their impressive Village displays. Hide the figure in clever places and invite your guests to find him. You could offer a “prize” for the person who finds Sasquatch first!


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Whether you have a firm belief in the mythical creature we call “Big Foot”, or “Sasquatch” the legend has its origins in native culture that is hundreds of years old.

Stories of a very large and hairy creature with ape-like facial features that appears to be half man and half ape have existed in various parts of the world for centuries. In the Himalayas, it’s he is called “Yeti.” In Canada, he is known as “Sasquatch” which is the translation of a word meaning “wild man” used by indigenous natives of Northwestern Canada. And in the northwest United States, we commonly call him “Bigfoot.”

“Bigfoot” is described by believers as being between six and eight feet tall with a large forehead similar to a cave man’s, and an oddly rounded head like the Lowland Gorilla. He is covered hair and has enormous feet, hence the name, and estimates are that the feet are a massive 24 inches long and eight inches wide. Some “witnesses” claim that the five-toed Bigfoot prints they saw on the ground were accompanied by claw marks indicating that the Bigfoot may have very long toenails, or claws.

Sasquatch CrossingStories of a “wild man” existed among the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest long before Europeans moved in. Versions of Bigfoot ranged from harmless giants who stole fish from fisherman’s nets, to cannibalistic monsters living on mountain peaks.
These stories varied from tribe to tribe, and even from family to family, which meant that Bigfoot had a lot of different names. In the 1920s, journalist J.W. Burns compiled the local legends for a series for a Canadian newspaper, coining the term “Sasquatch” in the process.

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Chocolate is Irresistible. 3 Sweet Shoppes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.

Since 1994 Department 56 has introduced holiday special sets designed to be sold for just one season making them very special. They are packaged to use as a gift for a new collector or, why not, for yourself! The sets compliment one or more of our Villages and often have a single theme. This year’s holiday special sets are simply irresistible because they all have to do with chocolate. We are pleased to announce that our holiday special sets for “Snow Village”, “Dickens’ Village” and the “North Pole” are all chocolate related and we know that you will love them!

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It’s fun to open a package that contains fudge, truffles, dark chocolates with nuts or caramel centers! Each set features a candy shop with holiday decorations and a young child, nose pressed up against the window, wishing and hoping to find chocolate treats in his stocking on Christmas morning!


  • Lucy eating chocolateIt can be good for your heart.
  • Chocolate ice cream and fudge toppings have the power to improve your day, and your life.
  • It can calm you down. (It’s a scientific fact that chocolate is a stress reliever. Now you can eat it without the guilt!)
  • It’s a great way to bond with your children. (Share a candy bar and you’ll be convinced!)
  • Let’s face it, chocolate is irresistible, and there is no reason to resist. (Just ask Lucy!)

girl eating chocolate 2
chocolates in handChocolate as we know it today has a long and rich history. Some historians believe it dates back several thousand years.  The word can be traced to an Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.” You don’t need to have a sweet tooth to recognize the familiar names of the original family-owned companies — Cadbury, Mars and Hershey who helped to usher in a boom in the late 1800s that has yet to slow down. With more than $75 billion worldwide spent on chocolate annually, the new Village chocolate shops are a necessary and sweet part of our Village displays in 2016!

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Jack Daniel’s – 150 Years in the Making

2016 will mark the 150th anniversary of the iconic brand — Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, and Department 56 is ready to join in the celebration with the new Jack Daniel’s Village pieces which include “Jack Daniel’s Office”, “Barrel House No. 7” and the “Lynchburg Hardware & General Store”.

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The Most Famous Dry County in America

If you venture down to Moore County, Tennessee, you will hear the story of the world’s most famous and best selling whiskey—Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. They tell us that more than 14 million bottles are sold world-wide in a single year. Named for the company founder Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, this product was originally distilled by Dan Call, a local preacher who took Jack in during the Civil War.  Call raised him after the death of his father because life with his stepmother and a large number of other children was difficult.  A small inheritance from his late father allowed Jack to buy a parcel of land and set up a distillery business when his mentor decided to give up the trade due to his religious convictions. This plot of land is where the distillery stands today.

Department 56 worked closely with the Jack Daniel’s Company to select just the right buildings to include that will help to tell the story of this icon brand. The “Jack Daniel’s Office” was the heart of the company’s operation for many years and our piece looks just like the original. We also designed  “Barrel House No.7” to represent the typical metal sheds where the barrels filled with whiskey are aged until it is ready to be bottled and shipped, and the “Lynchburg Hardware & General Store” gives us a flavor of the town where employees live and work.

In 2011 140 empty whiskey barrels were hoisted into place to create the first Jack Daniel’s Barrel tree. Once the barrels each held over 53 gallons of whiskey, but now they help to create a decorated lit tree for all of Lynchburg, Tennessee to enjoy and a new tradition was started. Department 56 designed and manufactured a miniature lighted replica of the barrel tree to add to your Jack Daniel’s Village display.

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