History of milkshakes

The milkshake is a USA specialty already well known to fans of American cuisine. It is available in most fast food chains, but also in many other restaurants. The main flavors chocolate, vanilla or strawberry are the most frequent and most sold, but many variations are possible and begin to appear on the menus.

The milkshake is a drink that is consumed cold. The base preparation includes ice cream mixed with milk to which is added fruit optionally.

The first official mentioning of milkshake on a menu dates back to 1885, but the recipe was probably invented a few years earlier in bars. Indeed, at that time the drink was alcoholic with whiskey, and included eggs in its composition. It was then a kind of Eggnog (a drink consumed in the United States during the period of Christmas).

However, around 1900, the name milkshake includes all drinks made of chocolate, strawberry or vanilla syrups. Then milkshakes always were a malt and milk drink.  It was often requested to have it iced and accompanied with a simple scoop of ice cream, like the Colonel scoop (vodka and lemon ice).

From 1920s to 1930s

The history of milkshake is closely linked to that of electric mixers, which transformed both the preparation of the beverage, but as well its composition and texture. Before the invention in 1922 of these appliances, it was indeed a kind of granite with crushed ice, sugar, milk, and often a little alcohol, prepared in a shaker. It was only after the democratization of these devices that the milkshake took the form we know today, that of a frothy, whipped and airy drink. It is interesting to note that the first version of the drink incorporated most often powdered milk, considered easier to digest, and more affordable.

The most probable inventor of the milkshake as we know it today is Ivar “Pop” Coulson, an employee of the grocery chain Walgreens, who discovered the mix in 1922. His employer received at the time many demands for the use of malted milk powder in the drink, and he had the idea of adding two scoops of vanilla ice cream to the standard recipe (malted milk powder, and chocolate syrup). This new recipe then became extremely popular in the soda fountains of the time.

Then becoming very fashionable in the 1930s, the milkshake was offered in many schools on the other side of the Atlantic and soon became one of the favorite drinks of students. At that time, visiting restaurants equipped with refrigerated distributors allowed easy and automatic service of this preparation. In the late 1930s the United States, the term “frosted” (frozen) means all milkshake prepared with ice cream. New flavors then come on the market, including the famous “frosted coffee” or iced coffee. 20 years later, the milkshake was available in almost all restaurants, dinners, fast food chains and bars.

Today’s milkshakes

The basis of the milkshake preparation is rather simple, but there are still two schools: the shaker and mixer. The milkshake preparation can be made from all ice cream flavors, it is even possible to use sorbet ice cream instead. However, the original recipe is prepared with vanilla ice cream.

The latter can also be embellished with yogurt or cottage cheese, and fresh fruit. The difference with the smoothie then comes from the use of milk and milk preparation in addition to the fruit.

For a quick recipe, plan a mixer in which you just put one or two scoops of your favorite ice cream, a few glasses of milk and perhaps a little alcohol. Mix ice and add the milk little by little, until a frothy, airy mixture. Then add everything you like (chocolate chips, caramel, …). And for an even more tasty drink, finish your recipe with whipped cream.

Some restaurants also offer variations of the original recipe with more or less liquid additions: mint liqueur or ice mint-chocolate, chocolate chips or caramel sauce … One can also put pieces of crushed cookies, all possible alcohols and many fruits. In this case, it is recommended to provide at least the same amount of fruit ice cream. Nowadays, numerous fast food chains offer their recipe hit or milkshake, strawberry, vanilla or chocolate of course, but also banana, cherry, peach, … Modern machines also make it possible to add fruit coulis spirals or, aesthetically, chocolate sauce.

In summary, the milkshake is a must to try in all fast food restaurants. It is a beverage whose variations are almost endless, based on a simple and easy recipe.