Milkshakes are a favorite of mine. I just had at thick delicious vanilla shake at Bob’s Big Boy last week and while on a trip to San Francisco, my traveling companions stopped for shakes at Fosters Freeze. They insisted that I try what Fosters had to offer. One ordered a banana shake and the other vanilla. The creamy, sweet, rich dessert called the milkshake is one of my favorite indulgences. Let’s learn how the treat made its introduction into society.- Crystal Johnson-MCCN editor
When the term “milkshake” was first used in print in 1885, milkshakes were an alcoholic whiskey drink that has been described as a “sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat”. However, by 1900, the term referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.” By the “early 1900s people were asking for the new treat, often with ice cream.” By the 1930s, milkshakes were a popular drink at malt shops, which were the “typical soda fountain of the period… used by students as a meeting place or hangout.”
The history of the electric blender, malted milk drinks and milkshakes are interconnected. Before the widespread availability of electric blenders, milkshake-type drinks were more like egg nog, or they were a hand-shaken mixture of crushed ice and milk, sugar, and flavorings. Hamilton Beach’s drink mixers began being used at soda fountains in 1911 and the electric blender or drink mixer was invented by Steven Poplawski in 1922. With the invention of the blender, milkshakes began to take their modern, whipped, aerated, and frothy form. Malted milk drinks are made with malted milk powder, which contains dried milk, malted barley and wheat flour. Malted milk powder was invented in 1897 by William Horlick as an easily digested restorative health drink for invalids and children, and as an infant’s food.
The use of malted milk powder in milkshakes was popularized in the USA by the Chicago drugstore chain Walgreens. In 1922, Walgreens’ employee Ivar “Pop” Coulson made a milkshake by adding two scoops of vanilla ice cream to the standard malted milk drink recipe (milk, chocolate syrup and malt powder). This item, under the name “Horlick’s Malted Milk,” was featured by the Walgreen drugstore chain as part of a chocolate milk shake, which itself became known as a “malted” or “malt” and became one of the most popular soda-fountain drinks.