Milkshakes and malt shakes are both as American as apple pie, and at first glance they both seem pretty similar. So what is the difference between these two soda fountain favourites? Or are they actually the same thing?
In fact, the only difference is one simple ingredient. Malt shakes contain malted milk, a sweet, toasty powder made from grains and condensed milk. Milkshakes, on the other hand, come in many different flavours, from staples such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, to modern monster shakes stacked high with candies and other treats.
What is a milkshake?
Milkshakes are made from milk, ice cream, and flavourings, usually in the form of sweet syrups. They are often topped with whipped cream, and can also come with various additional toppings.
The earliest recorded use of the word ‘milkshake’, was in the late 1800s, and referred to a drink made with eggs and whiskey, a little like eggnog. Modern milkshakes, however, were developed in the USA in the 1900s, and grew in popularity over the following decade or two as the electric blender became more widely available.
Praised by the Temperance movement as an alternative to alcohol, milkshakes became a symbol of the innocence of youth, and the drugstore counters, ice cream shops and soda fountains where they were sold became a socially acceptable place for young people to meet up. In recent years, a craze for super-sized ‘monster shakes’ has captured the public imagination, which has seen milkshakes topped with whole doughnuts, cupcakes, brownies, and brightly-coloured candies.
What is a malt shake?
A malt shake is a milkshake that has been flavoured with malted milk powder. It was one of the earliest flavours of modern milkshake, invented by Walgreens employee Ivar ‘Pop’ Coulson in 1922 by adding two scoops of ice cream to a regular malted milk drink. The original malts were chocolate flavoured, but vanilla malt shakes are a popular alternative.
Malted milk is a mix of malted barley, wheat flour and condensed milk, and has a toasted, buttery flavour that’s slightly sweet and slightly savoury. If you’ve never tried a malt shake, they’re basically malted milk balls in milkshake form. Malt shakes are perhaps not as widely-available as regular shakes, but once you’ve tried one they can be pretty addictive, and they have plenty of retro appeal, too.
Make your own milkshakes in two easy steps with this delicious vanilla milkshake recipe. This basic recipe can be adapted to make any flavour of milkshake simply by switching the ice cream. You can also add various different extras, including brownie pieces, crumbled cookies, some of your favourite candies, or chopped fruit. More is more when it comes to milkshakes, and if you want to try recreating the monster shakes from your favourite café or diner, you can try these tips for making restaurant-style milkshakes.
Vanilla ice cream,
4 large scoops
Mix the ice cream and milk together in a blender.
Divide the mixture into tall milkshake glasses, then top with whipped cream, plenty of sprinkles, and a cherry on top.
Malt shake recipe
If you prefer a more traditional treat with your burger, this authentic malt shake recipe will take you back to the days of drugstore soda fountains and jukeboxes.
Vanilla ice cream,
3 large scoops
Malted milk powder,
Malted milk balls,
crushed, to garnish
Mix the ice cream, milk, malt powder and vanilla together in a blender.
Divide the mixture into tall milkshake glasses, then top with whipped cream and crushed malt balls.