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The History Of Dole Whip And Its Cult Following At Disneyland

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Disney's Dole Whip Float (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)
While the addictive pineapple Dole Whip is served at different locations throughout the country, it's as synonymous with Disney as warm churros or Mickey Mouse ears.

On any given day at Disneyland, you'll find a long line snaking around Adventureland's Enchanted Tiki Room as folks try to cool down from the beating heat with the frosty, pineapple-flavored soft-serve. There are different ways to get it at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts: soft serve in a cup, or the Dole Whip Float, which has the ice cream dunked into pineapple juice with a maraschino cherry on top.

The simple dessert also has a deep-rooted cult following. Do a simple search on Etsy and you will find pages of Dole Whip-inspired scented candles, headbands, and T-shirts with millennial slogans like, "Now watch me whip."

From the amount of devotion Disney-lovers pay to Dole Whip at the parks, you'd think it was exclusively served there, but it's not. The ice cream is sold nationwide at zoos, universities and amusement parks. Anyone who's visited the Dole Plantation in Hawaii has gotten a taste of the Dole Whip there, complete with a pineapple spear sticking out of it. Just in Los Angeles alone, you can get it at places like Dodger Stadium, Menchie's, Lollicup and Roy Choi's 3 Worlds Café.

Dole Whip just really took off with Disney. Even the company that licenses the product, Kent Precision Foods Group, credits Dole Whip's popularity to Disney.

"Disney has literally created Dole Whip devotees," Jamie Schwartz of Kent Precision Foods Group tells LAist. "[They] built [up] the brand."

Dole Whip seems embedded in the fabric of Disney, but Disneyland's Concept Manager and longtime employee Karlos Siqueiros tells LAist, "The impression is that it's been around forever and it really hasn't. I've been working here longer."

Dole Food Company didn't introduce the soft-serve to the public until the mid-80s. When Disneyland's Tiki Bar opened in 1968, it wouldn't even have Dole attached to its name until eight years later when it became a sponsor. And even then, the little hut only served the Hawaiian company's pineapple juice and spears.

"Pineapple juice had always been served at the tiki stand, but we didn't have anything to add to it literally until the Dole Whip came in," Siqueiros says.

Thus, the Dole Whip and Dole Whip Float were born in 1986.

While "Dole Whip" just seems to be the catch-all phrase for the company's pineapple soft serve, it also comes in several other flavors like orange, strawberry, lemon, raspberry and mango.

In 1997, Kent Precision Foods Group stepped in to license the Dole Whip. While it used to contain a dairy derivative up until a few years ago, Schwartz says it's certified vegan now. It's not yogurt; it's made with non-dairy creamer, sugar and natural flavoring and coloring. Four out of six of the flavors are now free of artificial flavors. They're close to transitioning the mango and pineapple flavors to be the same, but it's been a slower process just because they want to get it tasting as close to the original since they have a cult following.

Anyone who licenses Dole Whip needs to use the company's commercial soft serve machine that gives the ice cream a "unique air texture," Schwartz says. They get all the tools and ingredients from Kent, and all they have to do is add water to the powder mix and get it going.

As for the queues outside the Enchanted Tiki Room, Siqueiros says there's just no way around it because of its popularity. There have always been two windows at the tiki room where you could purchase Dole Whip, but one of them was lesser known to guests. He credits Josh Gad, the voice actor of Olaf in Frozen, for revealing that secret during the 60th anniversary celebration when he was giving tips on how to visit the park. Now, both lines are equally long, and you'll just have to wait it out like everyone else to get a taste of the refreshing pineapple treat.

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