Milkshakes

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

milkshakes and malteds are cold, thick, creamy beverages made by combining milk, ice cream, iced milk, sorbet, or yogurt in a blender or mixer. To enhance the flavor, the mixologist has a vast range of options, including chocolate, coffee, malted milk, vanilla extract, honey, fruit syrups, juices, spices, and liqueurs. In different regions of the United States, the milkshake is variously called a frappe, a frosted, a thick shake, a cabinet, or a velvet.

The milkshake’s exact origins are unknown, but evidence indicates that it began as a soda fountain drink in the 1880s or earlier. See soda fountain. The ingredients and flavors resembled those of such traditional treats as English syllabubs and eggnogs. See egg drinks and syllabub. James Tufts, a soda fountain manufacturer, patented the Lightning Shaker for mixing milkshakes in 1884. The shaker, which was bolted to a counter, held one or two glass canisters with metal tops. The mixologist poured the milkshake ingredients into a canister and turned a crank to blend them. An 1890 dictionary defined milkshake as “an iced drink made of sweetened and flavored milk, carbonated water, and sometimes raw egg, mixed by being violently shaken by a machine specially invented for the purpose.”