It’s an iconic image we all know and love: a cold, thick milkshake in a tall fluted glass with whipped cream and a cherry on top. This year, National Milkshake Day falls on Sept. 12 and as ice cream lovers flock to get their fill—and as the milkshake song by that singer 15 years ago floats around in my head—let’s take a look at just how versatile the milkshake can be. But first, a history.
The term “milkshake” was first used in print in 1885, back when the beverage was an alcoholic whiskey drink that was described as a “sturdy, eggnog type of drink, with eggs and whisky, served as a tonic as well as a treat.” By 1900, the milkshake incorporated chocolate, strawberry or vanilla syrups. A few years later, people wanted another change: the addition of ice cream. By the 1930s, milkshakes were in every malt shop. Over the years, the sweet treat introduced malted milk powder, a variety of flavors and mix-ins like cookies, peanut butter and other candy bits.
Today, the choices are unlimited, but don’t be fooled; there are many ways to craft a milkshake.
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Remember in Pulp Fiction when Mia Wallace went to Jack Rabbit Slims with Vince Vega and ordered a $5 shake only to have the waiter, Buddy Holly, ask if she wanted it Martin & Lewis or Amos & Andy? Although it didn’t take place in a diner, “burger, fries and a shake” is a quintessential diner menu item. Hitting all the right spots on the tongue—especially satisfying that sweet and salty craving—this combo allowed dinner and dessert to be engulfed all at once.
By the way, Mia Wallace gets it Martin & Lewis style, a classic vanilla shake. There are dozens of diners across Long Island that offer milkshakes and you can’t throw a rock without hitting one.
Fast Food Establishments
McDonald’s strawberry milkshake actually has bits of strawberry mixed in, All American is known for their black and white shake (a simple combination of chocolate and vanilla that many deem groundbreaking), and Burger King seems to base all of their shakes with vanilla ice cream and then adds strawberry and chocolate syrups, making for an unusually light and frothy milkshake, and not in a good way. You won’t get a gourmet milkshake here, but you will get the trifecta of a classic American meal.
Ice Cream Shoppes
The one place that does it best, ice cream shoppes are known for sundaes, malts and milkshakes. And you know you’ll be getting quality ice cream with every scoop. Another sweet bonus is the amount of flavors offered. Create anything from a peanut butter fluff and black cherry milkshakes to a birthday cake and rocky road milkshake. Keep it simple and leave it to the pros.
Specialty Burger Eateries
Revolutionizing the milkshake game over the past few years, burger shops offer everything you could want in a milkshake and more. The game changer? A super thick straw to slurp up every bit of cookie chunk or cereal crunch. Most of these creamy concoctions are served with whole slices of cake, full sized donuts and a half sleeve of cookies with some lollipops and rock candy thrown in for good measure. While some may see this as an obnoxious trend (they are messy and over the top and some even include alcohol), if you’re going to indulge in dessert, you might as well have it all in one sitting, in one serving.
Try Bobby’s Burger Palace (Garden City), George Martin’s Burger Bar (Massapequa), Brixx and Barley (Long Beach), Burgerology (Rockville Centre), NY Burger Bar (Massapequa) or Meltology (Mt. Sinai) for one of these bad boys.