Posts Tagged With: Ice cream soda

218/365: National Root Beer Float Day

Don’t have a black cow, man! Today’s food holiday is perfectly refreshing. August 6 is National Root Beer Float Day!

National Root Beer Float DayRoot beer actually did, once upon a time, contain alcohol. 18th century farmers used to brew their own lightly alcoholic beverage to share during family gatherings. Originally made from the root or bark of the sassafras tree, the drink naturally contained small amounts of alcohol, and resembled beer (or Michael Moore) with its distinctive thick and foamy head. During the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876, pharmacist Charles Hires introduced a commercial version of root beer that he wanted to call “root tea” because, when it came to booze, he chose to abstain. Fearing the coal miners, who were his key demographic, would want nothing to do with such a dainty sounding beverage – these were dirty men who cursed, spit, and braved the threat of Black Lung day in and day out, after all – he christened the drink “root beer” instead. By 1893 it was being sold as a bottled soft drink. That same year, Frank J. Wisner – owner of the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company in Colorado – was struck by inspiration one night. The entrepreneur, who’d been selling soda water to thirsty miners, was looking for a special drink for the children of Cripple Creek. He glanced outside one moonlit night and noticed that the snow-capped peak of Cow Mountain looked like a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Inspired by this vision, the next day he added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the soda water that was most popular with the kids, Myers Avenue Red root beer. The beverage was a smash hit. Originally called a “Black Cow Mountain,” the name was later shortened to “black cow.” Nowadays, it is most often referred to, more simply, as a root beer float.

There are few things tastier than a root beer float on a warm summer day. To celebrate, we met up for lunch at Burgerville and split a root beer float. The perfect antidote for a 90-degree afternoon!

Categories: Beverages | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

188/365: National Strawberry Sundae Day

Happy Sundae! Err…Sundae. It’s a happy coincidence that today’s food holiday lands on its namesake day. July 7 is National Strawberry Sundae Day! And no, I did not stutter.

As recently mentioned, the sundae was created when conservative governments in several states banned the sale of ice cream sodas on Sundays. In order to keep their businesses afloat (joke alert!), ice cream purveyors came up with a soda-free alternative called the sundae (spelled that way to avoid offending Christians, who apparently believed that soda was the devil’s bidding). Many cities claim to be the birthplace of the sundae, including Two Rivers, Wisconsin; Plainfield, Illinois; Evanston, Illinois; New Orleans; New York City; Ithaca, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York. The exact origin is unclear, but it is generally accepted that the first ice cream sundae appeared sometime between 1880 and 1892.

The world's most expensive sundae.

The world’s most expensive sundae.

Ice cream sundaes are simple desserts consisting of one or more scoops of ice cream, topped with sauce, syrup, whipped cream, nuts, fruit, or sprinkles, or – in some cases – all of the above. Most sundaes are cheap and satisfying, but a restaurant in New York City called Serendipity 3 serves a $1000 sundae that is hailed by Guinness World Records as the world’s most expensive. Called the Serendipity Golden Opulence Sundae, this treat is made with 5 scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla, covered in 23-karat edible gold leaf, rare Amedei Porcelana and Chuao chocolates, caviar, passionfruit, orange, Armagnac, candied fruit from Paris, and marzipan cherries. The whole thing is covered in gold dragées and served in a baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet with an 18-carat-gold spoon. You get to keep the goblet, but have to give back the spoon. Seriously?

Fresh out of $1000 bills, we had to scale back our celebration of the strawberry sundae. Instead, we spent a buck and change and grabbed one from McDonald’s. I remembered that they sold sundaes, but it had been years since I’d gotten one. They were smaller than I remember, actually – but not bad. Not bad at all.

National Strawberry Sundae Day

Categories: Dairy, Desserts, Fruit | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

181/365: National Ice Cream Soda Day

You just may float on a happy haze when you celebrate today’s perfectly summery food holiday. June 30 is National Ice Cream Soda Day!

June 20 was also National Ice Cream Soda Day, so I suppose if you didn’t get your fill back then, today’s your encore. We chose to celebrate the vanilla milkshake on that day instead so as not to repeat ourselves. Just to keep us on our toes, there’s also a National Root Beer Float Day coming up in August. Knowing that, we should have opted for something a little more unique today, but laziness got the better of us.

Ice cream sodas, or floats, go by the name “snowballs” in the U.K. and “spiders” in the land Down Under, where women work and men plunder. They are exactly what their name implies: ice cream served in a soft drink. Ice cream sodas were invented in 1874 by Robert McCay Green in Philadelphia. According to legend, during that city’s sesquicentennial celebration, Robert ran out of cream for the flavored sodas he was selling on a particularly hot day, and substituted ice cream instead. But Robert explained in an interview that his creation was no accident: he wanted to invent a new treat to draw customers away from a competitor who had a bigger, fancier soda fountain. He experimented by mixing vanilla ice cream with soda water and a choice of 16 different flavored syrups. This new treat was a big hit, and Green was so proud of his invention, his will stipulated that “Originator of the Ice Cream Soda” be carved on his tombstone when he died.

While teens loved the tasty treat, many adults did not, and the drink was actually banned by some conservative local governments who believed that soda, which was marketed as a “miracle cure” (for what – skinniness?), was a controlled substance that should not be served or purchased on Sundays. In an effort to boost business, soda fountains came up with a treat that contained ice cream but no soda. They coined the new dessert a “sundae” that they could serve on “soda’s day of rest.”

Now, that’s clever!

To celebrate, Tara and I made root beer floats. I mean, what other type of soda-and-ice-cream combination can ever top the classic?

National Ice Cream Soda Day

Categories: Beverages, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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