A Dairy Queen restaurant in Brainerd, Minnesota was the scene of the pay-it-forward chain that lasted nearly three days. According to store manager Tina Jensen the chain stretched over the course of nearly three days, starting on Thursday, Dec. 3, during the store’s lunch rush, and ending on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 5.
The longest chain this drive-through ever experienced was 15 to 20 cars, but in 2020 with the holiday spirit in the air, everyone wanted to keep it going. Jensen, who manages two Dairy Queen locations in Brainerd, said that the event led to about $10,000 in sales with over 900 cars paying it forward. Jensen said she was excited on December 3 when a man said he’d like to pay for the car behind him, so she gave the heart-warming news to the people in that car, and then asked if they wanted to do the same.
“If you like I can pay it forward and you can pay for the order behind you and we can keep this going,” Jensen recalled in an interview with KARE-TV. “She’s like ‘really, why would he do that?’.” That customer agreed to pass on the kind gesture and after that, the next car kept paying for whoever came next. Jensen says, “One lady, she was so excited, she threw us a 20 dollar bill almost in tears. ‘Are you serious? This is really going on?’ I said, yep, you are about 125 cars into it. She said, ‘For real, can you believe this?’”
Before Jensen left for the day, she instructed employees to let her know if anything happened to end the chain. At the end of each shift, Jensen would post an update about the chain on the restaurant’s Facebook page, and the event quickly caught the attention of social media watchers. Jensen said “The community was posting it on different pages, and the word spread,” she explained. “We heard a few different times, ‘Oh, I’ve seen it going on Facebook, I wasn’t sure if it was still going,’ and we’d tell them they were the 300th car or something and that’s where the excitement really came in. People would get very, very excited.”
Jensen said that at least one person called the restaurant and asked to put money on a gift card that could be used in case a car couldn’t pay it forward. “There would be times where people ordered a $5 Blizzard and the car behind them would be a full family getting, you know, a $30 or $40 order,” Jensen said. “To keep a chain going, you’ve got to make sure that somebody is paying it forward, and that’s what we did.” By the time the chain came to an end on Saturday evening, when a customer couldn’t pay for the party behind them and the gift card funds had run out, Jensen said that she and her staff had been excited and energized by the experience.