This post is part of our series ranking the top 25 bygone products and trends we'd like to see return.

My first real job outside of babysitting was for an odd local fast food chain in Portland, Ore. called "Arctic Circle." We were famous for three things: our fry sauce, our enormous taco salads, and our milk shakes. The milk shakes were made with soft serve ice cream, seasonal mix-ins, and real milk, mixed in old-fashioned steel cups. I still remember the grinding noise of the milkshake blades grazing the edge of the cup, and working the milk machine, purposely making a shake that was far too much to fit in the cup so I could pour the leftovers into a little cup and indulge.

Unfortunately, today's milkshake is barely recognizable compared to those of the middle of the century. Most milkshakes consumed by Americans today come from McDonald's, Wendy's or Starbucks; where they are all individually "branded", Shamrock Shake, Frosty, Frappuccino, so that it's clear the milk is but a minor player. Nonfat milk solids, corn syrup solids, guar gum, dextrose, cellulose gum, vanillan. Is this progress?

Not in my book. Give me simple ice cream (maybe even made with actual cream!), a handful of berries or a teaspoonful of vanilla, and a nice pull from the milk machine. Mix it up with the original "immersion blender," pour it thickly into a glass, and give me a long-handled spoon. Now that is a milkshake.

What soda fountain treat do you miss the most?


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