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.
You can also substitute another flavor of ice cream.
Also below, the difference between a milkshake, float, malt, and thick shake.
Ingredients For 6 Half-Cup Servings
1. PLACE ice cream, milk, alcohol, and syrup/vanilla in a 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.
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
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).
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.
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).
Vanilla cardamom milkshake shooter with a whoopie pie. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.
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, also known as an ice cream soda, is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with one or more scoops of ice cream “floating” in it.
A milkshake, “shake” for short, is a blend of ice cream, milk, and flavoring. The scoop of ice cream is blended into the milk; you can’t see the ice cream.
A thick shake has multiple scoops of ice cream, which thicken the drink—“So thick,” advertised one soda fountain, “that the straw stands up straight.”
A malt, short for malted milk, is a milkshake with added malted milk powder. The powder is made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. It was originally developed, in 1897, by a pharmacist, James Horlick. He intended it as a gruel—a nutritional supplement—for infants.
Soon enough, parents discovered how tasty it was…and the rest is history.