A History of Milkshakes

A History of Milkshakes on coldstonesouthflorida.com

Learn the backstory behind this amazing indulgence


A creamy treat loved by all, the milkshake plays a huge part in America’s snacking history. They are just one of those things that bring us back to being a kid, thinking of when we sipped a sweet milkshake on a sunny summer afternoon by the pool. And since we’ve always had them as part of our lives, it’s easy to assume they’ve been here for generations and generations. But have you ever stopped to think about where milkshakes came from, when they were invented, and how they came to be?

You might be surprised to learn the answers. What is now considered a wholesome and rich treat for people of all ages and backgrounds wasn’t always as suited for everyone. Let’s take a quick look at the unexpected history of milkshakes:

When milkshakes were for adults only

According to Stuart Berg Flexner’s Listening to America: An illustrated history of words and phrases from our lively and splendid past, milkshakes were introduced in 1885 as an alcoholic whiskey drink, somewhat similar in nature and consistency to eggnog. While most often we picture milkshakes as something you and the kids can enjoy together, it turns out that wasn’t always the case. They were considered “adult beverages.”

A family-friendly treat

But these adults-only treats didn’t last too long. By the 1900s, milkshakes referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups” and were a sweet option for the whole family. Most milkshakes were a mixture of milk, malt, and any combination of tasty flavors (but, of course, most typically chocolate).

The milkshakes of today

Surprisingly, it was a Walgreens employee, Ivar "Pop" Coulson, who is credited with creating today’s modern milkshake as we know it. Walgreens shares: “Until then, malted milk drinks were made by mixing milk, chocolate syrup and a spoonful of malt powder in a metal container, then pouring the mixture into a glass. On one especially hot summer day in 1922, Pop Coulson set off his revolution. To the basic mixture, he added a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, then another.”

And there you have it — the traditional ice cream milkshake was born!

Today, milkshakes come in all sorts of flavors

Whether you’re a classic chocolate fan or you want something a little more creative, milkshakes are the perfect treat for a hot summer’s day — or, year round here in South Florida. Want to enjoy rich, creamy milkshakes at your next big event? Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to work out a catering plan that works with your theme and budget.