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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Vanilla Milkshake Day

Celebrate with a vanilla milkshake. Photo by
Inga Nielsen | IST.


June 20th is National Vanilla Milkshake Day, and we’ve got some delicious recipes.

A milkshake is a simple combination of ice cream, milk and syrup, combined in a blender and optionally garnished with whipped cream, a maraschino cherry or sprinkles (you can be more daring with chocolate-covered coffee beans, mini chips, etc.).

Adults can add a shot of whiskey or liqueur.


Ingredients For 6 Half-Cup Servings

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons to 1 shot of spirits: bourbon, whiskey, liqueur/schnapps (try butterscotch, chocolate, coffee or vanilla), cream liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup or pure vanilla extract
  • Optional garnish: cherry, sprinkles, whipped cream


    1. PLACE ice cream, milk, alcohol and syrup/vanilla in blender. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth.

    2. POUR into glasses. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

    More ice cream in the mix makes a thicker shake.

    If you like cardamom, try this delicious vanilla cardamom milkshake shooter.


    Most people know a “milkshake” as a cold beverage made from milk, ice cream and often, syrup, served in a tall, fluted glass with a straw (the classic milkshake glass is known as a Y glass).

    The Random House Dictionary describes a milkshake as an American creation, “a frothy drink made of cold milk, flavoring, and usually ice cream, shaken together or blended in a mixer.” And it states that the word dates to 1885.

    That’s when the word “milkshake” is first found in print. But that original milkshake was not suitable for children or teetotalers. It was an alcoholic drink, a “…sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”*

    By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were out, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”*

    Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream.



    The modern milkshake was born in 1922, when an employee at a Chicago Walgreens, Ivar “Pop” Coulson, was inspired to add two scoops of ice cream to malted milk. Malted milk was a drink made by blending milk, chocolate syrup and malt (malt was invented in 1887—as a nutritional supplement for infants).

    The malted milkshake shot to stardom nationwide. By the 1930s, soda fountains were known as “malt shops.” In 1937 two milkshake-worthy events occurred: A superior blender was invented by Fred Waring, and the flexible straw was invented by Joseph Friedman.

    But not all milkshakes were malted milkshakes. Many people preferred their milkshakes malt-free.

    By the late 1930s, the term “frosted” was being used to describe maltless milkshakes that blended ice cream and milk into one smooth drink, while a “float” had scoops of ice cream “floating” in milk.


    Vanilla cardamom milkshake shooter with a whoopie pie. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.


    Soda fountain owners also came up with their own names. In New England, milkshakes were variously called frappes (Massachusetts), velvets, frosteds and cabinets (Rhode Island, referring to the freezer cabinet from which the ice cream was scooped). Someone in a drive-through restaurant in St. Louis invented the concrete, a milkshake so thick that it was handed out the order window upside down for a wow factor. (We’ve had a few, and would argue that the concrete is not really a milkshake, but ice cream that’s been blended with just enough milk to turn it into a malleable form. It needs to be eaten with a spoon: It’s so thick it can’t be drunk through a straw).

    *Source: Stuart Berg Flexner, Listening to America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982) p. 178.


    In the 1950s, a milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc bought became the exclusive distributor of a speedier milkshake machine, the Multimixer. He inadvertently invented modern fast food with his vision of franchising McDonald’s hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California—in order to sell several Multimixers to each location.


    A float is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with a scoop of ice cream “floating” in it.

    A malt is a milkshake—ice cream, milk, flavoring—with added malted milk.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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