What Dairi-O means to me

The NC-based restaurant chain evokes nostalgic memories of college

Catherine Regen, Life Editor

As a senior who will be graduating this December, I’ve started to compile a list of “lasts.” The last time I’ll attend an in-person class. The last essay I’ll write the night before it’s due. The last time I’ll edit the Life Section of the Old Gold & Black. Among those lasts will be my last trip to the dining establishment known as Dairi-O. I’ll probably cry as my wheels pull into the drive-through, welcomed back with a friendly wave by whichever staff member is standing outside. I had never heard of or been to a Dairi-O until the spring of my freshman year. A new friend, who became a best friend, took me there because it was the closest restaurant to the disc golf course at Horizons park. I remember balking at the name. What sort of reputable restaurant misspells ‘dairy’ in its name? The best kind. 

The logo is lime green and cherry red, a combination that might remind some readers of the Christmas season, but will always remind me of Dairi-O. The chain also has a mascot, a server wearing the characteristic Dairi-O oval hat. There is a statue of the mascot outside the new location being built on University Parkway across from Cook Out. The new location will be much easier for students to access. But until its construction is finished, the location five miles further down University Parkway will remain open for everyone to enjoy. 

My friends tell me my order at Dairi-O is odd, but I remain faithful to my number one combo. The number one consists of two plain hot dogs, seasoned french fries, and an ice cold Cheerwine. I will only ever drink the Cheerwine from Dairi-O, it just tastes better than anywhere else. I’ve never tried anything else from my favorite local chain, but my friend Andy would recommend the same thing but add chili and cheese (blegh). He’s crazy, but do as you like. Dairi-O also boasts an impressive range of milkshakes and ice cream treats, including season flavors like pumpkin pie and candy cane. 

Some people might measure their time at college by accomplishments or milestones, but I will measure mine by Dairi-O trips. My freshman year, we ate there anytime we played disc golf, a nice little ritual as the weather got warmer in the spring. My sophomore year I broke my vow of vegetarianism after five days because we were going to eat at Dairi-O and I couldn’t go without my usual order. The spring of my junior year, I ate Dairi-O as my last meal before heading home for quarantine. Dairi-O was my first meal of senior year, and I’ve dragged my friends back since. The last time I went the server called me Kitty-Cat, an action I’m sure we both regret, but that is indicative of the treat-you-like-family attitude the staff regard guests with. 

I will be a fan of Dairi-O for the rest of my life, and will greatly miss its comforts when I leave. I would like to tell you I will miss it entirely because the food is of such a high caliber, but it is for much more sentimental reasons. Dairi-O represents the best of my years as a student at Wake Forest, of friends made and disc golf games lost. It is my only hope that the next generation of undergraduates discovers this diamond in the rough for themselves.