This is one of the sweetest celebration days of all this month as we pay homage to that more than a century old treat, the chocolate milkshake. By the way, totally random bit of info here… Episode #6 of my Sketching Stuff podcast launched this week, so please check it out when you can and leave me a comment at! As for milkshakes, back in the 1920’s, Walgreens took their malted milk recipe and added a couple scoops of ice cream to create a new version of chocolate milk shakes, and this version became known as a malt. The days of drugstore soda fountains are gone now, but you can still find little wonderful places that have preserved those days. Philippe and I went to one a couple of years ago and the experience is still the best milkshake experience on the planet. What I love about those times of the so-called “Soda Jerks,” which now sounds a bit like an insult, was the special lingo that was developed. You might order a chocolate milkshake, but the order would be called out as “one barrel of black mud!” which doesn’t sound nearly as appealing, but I guess served to get the point across and deliver a lovely glass of sugary goodness topped with whipped cream.

Truly, those days had nearly passed entirely by the time I was a kid, but there were still many more places that delivered the true milkshake and soda fountain experience. These days, the soda fountains have all been replaced with coffee shops, delivering a more caffeinated treat, but it’s not the same. Even those are usually large chains so I’ll always choose an independent coffee shop first as well. I don’t like that in all of our technological advancements that we’ve taken the human element out of the equation. Actual people who would take pride in yelling “Dust!” to serve up a bit of malted milk or to “Burn One All the Way!” if you wanted your chocolate malted with chocolate ice cream instead. Language built by workers and artisans who could still feel like they were part of actually making something happen rather than simply pressing a single button. Days where a random invention by a single employee, like a chocolate malt, would actually go to market and make history. I know I’m older and older people tend to fantasize about the past, but in so many ways, I do believe it was actually better than today. I’m not really alone as the younger folks always gravitate toward anything vintage.

Yeah, so vintage was when I was a teenager and what I’m describing probably falls into the category of antique, but it was awesome all the same. I’m thankful each day for our strong maker movement that still celebrates arts and crafts and things made by hand. Each day, somewhere on this world, someone is sitting down to make something new appear, using bits of material and imagination, to create a little masterpiece. When I started this site, I was addicted to drawing and painting with watercolor (still am!), but I admire all types of work made by hand. I cherish the quilts that my grandmother made for me and every little piece of my past that still retains the hand of the artist. So on this magnificent day meant to celebrate a dessert, I will silently cheer on every person who made those incredible hand-dipped ice cream marvels. And feel very happy that I was around in a time where I could still now taste the difference. Maybe it wasn’t the purer ingredients at all, but something more magical. Perhaps, in the end, I was tasting something wholly intangible. The pride of the artisan who made it. Something that can’t quite be replicated by machines, making it the best dessert of all and the best version of chocolate milkshake day.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (My “Vintage” Trio!).  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Day 12 - Chocolate Milkshake Day Watercolor - Doodlewash

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25 thoughts on “Chocolate Milkshake Day

  1. Oh, I so want one of what you painted! Your talk about soda jerk lingo made me think of the old joke: “A trucker came into a truck stop cafe and placed his order. “I want three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running boards.”
    The brand new waitress, not wanting to appear inexperienced, went to the kitchen and said to the cook, “This guy out there just ordered three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running boards. What does he think this place is… an auto parts store?”
    “No,” the cook said. “Three flats tires means three pancakes, a pair of headlights is two eggs sunny side up, and running boards are two slices of crisp bacon.”
    “Oh, OK!” said the young girl. She thought about it for a moment and then spooned up a bowl of beans and gave it to the customer.
    The trucker asked, “What are the beans for, Blondie?”
    She replied, “I thought while you were waiting for the flat tires, headlights and running boards, you might as well gas up.”

  2. Charlie said:”Perhaps, in the end, I was tasting something wholly intangible. The pride of the artisan who made it.”
    Yes, yes and yes! This site grows pride as well as pictures and words.

  3. I love me some chocolate malt! Two things about my chocolate malt experiences. First. I used to live up nirno, and one place we went to made the malt in an old fashioned metal cup. They poured it in a tulip glass and added whipped cream. Then they served it with the metal cup on the side so you didn’t miss out on the last inch of goodness!

    And these days, if I want a malt, I send Joe to town where he drives up to the front window of a trailer out of which they sell lots of ice cream treats. Yum!! It’s seasonal though, so no ice cream treats for me in January! 😁

  4. Good grief, Charlie, I think we are long lost siblings – only I’m the much older one. Your chocolate milkshake looks delicious. Just yesterday, really, just yesterday! I was thinking how much I miss the old soda fountains and being able to order an ice cream soda. My personal favorite is a black and white cow: a chocolate syrup and seltzer base with scoops of vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Yum! I miss the old fashioned apothecary shops with the large glass pendants hanging from the ceilings and stools lined up along a wooden counter. A rappa frappa chappa is not the same experience at all.

    1. Yeah, by this point, I’m rather sure we must be long lost siblings my friend! 😃💕 Those days were just SO awesome!! How on earth could they not last like they should! I’m so happy to have lived in a time where I can appreciate the difference. 😉

  5. I remember soda fountains and vanilla phosphates (still have no idea what they are and probably don’t want to know.) Seemed like every neighborhood had a soda fountain when I was a kid. Nice shake and memories, Charlie.

  6. I can’t help but be stuck on the soda jerk comment and think about that old country song – “Back Then” – when a hoe was a hoe and coke was a coke and crack’s what you were doing – when you were cracking jokes…. 🙂

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