Milkshakes are true American classics — chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry have the power to transport us back to diner days or hot summer afternoons. But creative, more decadent variations prove that milkshake makeovers can be just as satisfying. Whether they choose classic or novel versions, Americans have been indulging in milkshakes for more than a century, often breaking diets, but always satisfying cravings.
The milkshake's origins can be traced back to the late 19th century, when an 1885 newspaper described the milkshake as a sturdy drink with milk, whiskey, eggs, sugar, and ice. It wasn’t until 1922 when a Walgreens employee in Chicago, Ivar "Pop" Coulson, took an old-fashioned malted milk and added scoops of ice cream. This new creation boomed in popularity nationwide throughout the 1930s, and milkshakes became staples at malt shops.
Today, the restaurants, diners, and ice cream parlors on this list are serving the best milkshakes around. When deciding which milkshakes to include, we took into consideration the quality of the ice cream (made in-house was a plus in our books), the variety of flavors offered (who could say no to the Speculoos shake at Edzo’s Burger Shop?), and the history of the institution that serves them.
Unfortunately, Americans' retro love for milkshakes is often overshadowed by creative adult drink options. That’s why places like Lunchbox Laboratory offer boozy shakes, served with a test tube of alcohol to appeal to the kid and grown-up in all of us.
But beyond all of our criteria, the milkshakes had to be blended to creamy perfection in order to join the ranks of some others we’ve loved. So if you’re traveling this summer or just need a suggestion for a shake nearby, we hope we can guide you toward a delicious, irresistible milkshake to cool you down.