New England Milkshakes Don't Have Ice Cream In Them

When many of us think of a milkshake, we expect a thick, blended mixture of ice cream and milk, often topped with a dollop of whipped cream and an unnaturally bright red maraschino cherry. Even Cambridge Dictionary and Merriam-Webster define the sweet treat as a drink made with milk, a flavored syrup, and ice cream. However, residents of New England in the U.S. would never dream of putting ice cream in a milkshake.

New Englanders know milkshakes as what the name sounds like: a shaken milk-based beverage. Milk and a flavored syrup are put together in a cup or shaker and vigorously shaken or blended until the ingredients are combined, and a foamy, creamy head forms at the top. There's not a speck of ice cream in a true New England milkshake.

To be clear, folks in New England enjoy an ice cream-based blended drink as much as the rest of the country, but they call such concoctions "frappes." In fact, if you order a milkshake in one of the six New England states — that being Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut – and you don't have a local accent, your server may ask if you're expecting an ice-cream based frappe.

New England milkshakes resemble an earlier version

Ice cream-based milkshakes are actually the third major iteration of the beverage, and came about in the 1920s. The first milkshakes were created in America in 1885, and were strictly for adults only. They featured whisky and eggs, making them more similar to a traditional eggnog than a soda fountain favorite. By the 20th century, the booze was axed in favor of milk and flavored syrup, creating a shake that seems remarkably similar to the modern New England version. In 1922, a Chicago Walgreens employee named Ivan "Pop" Coulson was the first to blend ice cream with malted milk, creating a version of the milkshake that would become an iconic symbol of Americana, diner culture, and midcentury soda fountain delight.

While ice cream may not belong in an austere New England milkshake, the region is crazy about ice cream in all other contexts. Not only is the area home to ice cream giant Ben & Jerry's, but New England is renowned for its ice cream shops that sling flavors that are uniquely theirs, including black raspberry, frozen pudding (which includes rum and dried fruit), and maple walnut. If you want to feel like a local on your next trip to Cape Cod, ask for a frozen pudding frappe. Just know that it's pronounced "frap," so don't you dare add that "pay" at the end.