When one visits a Disney park, there are some fun treats to be found, from the Mickey ice cream bars to other snacks. But one that folks associate so well with Disney is the Dole Whips. Yet the reasons why this ice cream variation came to be may surprise you!
Disney+’s recent Behind the Attraction series has done some great episodes detailing the history of the parks. Season 2 had one devoted entirely to food from the big restaurants to other snacks, with the Dole Whip being a big focus.
As it happens, Disney and Dole go back quite a ways, all the way back to 1976 when Dole became the official sponsor of the Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland. They also handled treats for Walt Disney World, mostly juices and some fruit snacks.
Disneyland, by then, had become well known for some great ice cream spots, often helpful in cooler California days. But when Walt Disney World opened in 1971, Disney swiftly realized that ice cream doesn’t fare as well in Florida, especially in the summer.
After years of melted cones and dishes strewn about the parks, Disney needed something different, a tasty sort of treat that could last a bit longer. And Dole just happened to have it in mind.
Who created the Dole Whip?
Dole itself goes back to James Dole, who founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901, making pineapples synonymous with Hawaii. It expanded to San Francisco with various shifts before becoming the Dole Food company.
It was food scientist Kathy Westphal who came up with the idea of a non-dairy, dry-mix ice cream variant that could stand up to the Florida heat.
Mixing up elements of pineapple, yogurt, and ice cream, Westphal put a literal spin on it to create the “whip” effect. At first, as she put it to SFGate, it was, “The Rodney Dangerfield of treats, it got no respect.” But once the company higher-ups realized they had something low in calories, tasty and wouldn’t melt fast, it was a winner.
Debuting in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 1984, it took a bit for the Dole Whip to become a hit. But soon, it was a success and moved to Disneyland in 1986. It’s now at the parks, the cruise ships and other places.
Fans do love making their own version of a Dole Whip at home even if they can't get the specific recipe right. Dole finally bowed to the inevitable in 2023 to sell versions of Dole Whip in stores in various flavors. However, most can agree a Disney park version is the best and it’s remarkable how all it took was a need to handle Florida weather to create one of Disney’s most iconic eats.