After a weeklong trip to South Korea visiting partner manufacturing groups, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller had only one request when he returned to Alabama.
“I had a Mrs. Story’s footlong chili cheese dog and vanilla milkshake on my mind for the last three or four days of that trip,” Fuller said. “That’s what I ended up having for dinner when I got back, and it was wonderful. It might have been the best one I’ve ever tasted.”
Fuller isn’t the only Alabamian who loves the milkshakes at Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar. Fans of the little family-owned, walk-up restaurant helped it earn the title of “Alabama’s Best Milkshake” in a contest hosted on Simply Southern TV’s Facebook page in November 2016.
For the contest, nominations were accepted from Facebook users, and eight Alabama restaurants were selected as finalists. Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar won the contest over second-place finisher Cardinal Drive-In in Moulton by more than 300 votes.
“This is awesome and such a blessing,” said Rhonda Boothe, who owns Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar with her husband, Bob. “I think our milkshakes are different because of the products we use. We use whole milk, real fruit and ice cream. The shakes are actually made on an old-timey milkshake machine, too.”
For winning the contest, the Boothes received a plaque and a $300 cash prize, sponsored by the American Dairy Association of Alabama and the Southeastern United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA).
Lee County dairy farmer and SUDIA representative Darrell Rankins said the contest was a great way to promote local businesses while reminding consumers about dairy’s health benefits.
“Everyone knows dairy products are a good source of calcium and Vitamin D, but they're also a very nutritious source of protein,” he said.
Rankins helped judge a “Best of the Best” contest, which involved taste-testing five of Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar’s best-sellers.
“We decided the chocolate walnut was the overall winner,” Rankins said. “There’s no milkshake I wouldn’t like, but a combination of ice cream, chocolate and nuts will always go to the top of the list.”
There are plenty of milkshake flavors to choose from at Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar, from the standard vanilla, chocolate or strawberry to the more unique pineapple, cherry, orange or caramel. The rest of the menu features hot dogs, chili dogs and ice cream.
Dan and Annie Story opened the restaurant as a Dari Delite in May 1952 and changed its name 10 years later to Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar. Cora Reames, granddaughter of the original owners, was the second generation of the family to run the business.
“It’s really funny to me that after all these years, people who didn’t know my grandmother will still call me Mrs. Story when I’m out at the grocery store or somewhere,” Reames said. “I’m very proud to be part of the family that started this 65 years ago. My daughter and son-in-law own it now, and when they retire, my grandson plans to buy the business so it will keep going.”
The must-try milkshake mainstay is located off Pepperell Parkway in Opelika. Watch Simply Southern TV on March 5 for a segment on Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar and Alabama’s Best Milkshake Contest.
Simply Southern TV is a production of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Farmers Cooperative that airs Sunday mornings on stations in Birmingham; Columbus, Georgia; Dothan; Huntsville; Mobile; and Montgomery. Find more information at SimplySouthernTV.net.
SUDIA works with schools, health professionals, retailers, dairy processors and the public to promote dairy foods. For more information, visit SoutheastDairy.org.