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How Thick Is That Shake?

In St. Louis, where I am, there's a frozen custard shake called the Concrete that pretty much sets the standard locally for how thick they are; the Concrete is handed to the customer upside down. The DQ Blizzard is modeled on it, and so are the shakes at Danny Meyer's Shake Shack, Meyer being raised here.

I personally prefer them to be thin enough to take through a straw, as one of our best burger joints serves it. I can't get the logic of them being so dense that you, in Joseph Wambaugh's memorable phrase, "have to suck your teeth out" to get them. Is this a localism? Please discuss.

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  1. To be fair to the Ted Drewes concoction, I think the Concrete is supposed to be eaten with a spoon as opposed to a straw, right? Isn't that why the Concrete is served with a spoon?

    In any event, I take no position on how thick a shake (or custard) should be.

    All I know is that when it's about 90F and 10000% humidity on a mid-August afternoon in St. Louis, there are few things finer than a Pistachio Concrete.

    1. Unless there has been some liquid introduced into the shake, to me. it's really not a shake, but custard or soft serve with toppings added or blended in.

      Most frozen treats benefit from warming up above 5*F. At that point it allows your taste buds to work......I find the shakes you describe benefit from melting a little bit too....but if I can't wait, I just use a spoon

      1. I hate shakes like that. There are few things in life that are so annoying.
        If you can't sip it through a straw, it should not be called a "shake" or "frappe."
        If I want ice cream, I'll order ice cream!

        1. Equally annoying are the far too many restaurants that try to save a penny and give you these thin-walled, small-diameter soda straws that just don't work with shakes.

          4 Replies
          1. re: aynrandgirl

            Interesting. Haven't come across THAT before in years. Where are you located, and are these franchises or independent owners?

            1. re: lemons

              I've seen it in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Primarily mom & pop joints.

            2. re: aynrandgirl

              Remember when straws were made of paper? One good suck and they collapsed flatter than a pancake and your eardrums burst.

              1. re: acgold7

                Or fell apart because you didn't drink fast enough.

            3. I don't have any experience with St. Louis; the only "concrete" I've ever had has been at Shake Shack. I never thought the concrete was a shake at all as SS sells both concretes and shakes. I thought a concrete was custard with something blended in, to be eaten with a spoon. It never occurred to me to confuse it with a shake.

              1 Reply
              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                And that's very logical. It's just an evolutionary process, I guess. But the original is served w/ a spoon and a straw as well.

              2. So that's new? Back in the late 40's when I worked as a soda jerk (and general dogsbody) in our local drug store, my father used to order milkshakes that wouldn't pour out of the mixer can. We obliged (but also charged him double the price!). I did not inherit that gene, however.

                1. Wendy's Original Frosty is like this... you think you are ordering a milk shake and it is just a cup of soft serve.

                  Elevation Burger has shakes that are so thick they can't be sipped via a straw.

                  I can't think of any place that serves a shake that is drinkable. This is analagous to fine restaurants that serve coffee that is just too dark - - they don't want to appear cheap by serving "thin" coffee and figure that if you want your coffee lighter, just add water or milk.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                    I just had one a couple of days ago at Burger, Tap and Shake in DC.

                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      For me, I'm afraid at BTS, the 'T' would always win over the 'S'. Probably the Porter.

                  2. While the number of locations has been shrinking of late, the Friendly's chain in New England offers both Shakes and a thicker beverage they call a Fribble. The Shake (or optionally Malt) can be consumed with a straw plus they serve the "leftover" portion in the original metal mixing container.

                    In general I have had success in ordering shakes when I specify "not *too* thick".

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: HDinCentralME

                      In New England, what most of the country calls a milk shake is called a Frappe. They are usually pretty thick. When I lived there, decades ago, a chain Weeks had what they called an Awful Awful, awful thick, awful good. You could put a straw in no more than a quarter inch and it would stand up.

                      1. re: HDinCentralME

                        I worked at a Friendly's in NJ when I was in high school. We made the shakes on a traditional mixer in the metal can -- ice cream flavor of your choice, plus syrup (vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate), and milk. The Fribble was made with "Fribble base," which was basically a very solid ice milk (vanilla I think), which was much harder than the regular ice cream. This is what made the resulting shake thicker, and it was flavored with one of the syrups.

                      2. Personally, I prefer a good malted milk shake which is not so thick and easy to drink with a straw. Back in the day malteds were very popular. Today, it's hard to find a good malted milk shake. Is the malt powder so expensive??? Shake Shack makes a nice malted, Junior's too!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Motosport

                          Malts were the only thing to do in small-town MO in the Fifties. I strongly suspect their disappearance nationally has something to do with McD's et al only offering shakes. Two generations have now grown up unmalted.

                          1. re: Motosport

                            I've tried malted shakes over the years at different places just to try to get an understanding of why they used to be so popular.
                            None of the ones I've had impressed me.

                            1. re: racer x

                              They probably all use the same Sysco Malted Milk Powder.

                              Soda jerks often get a little too exuberant with the malt powder.

                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                I remember Carnation making the malted powder.

                              2. re: racer x

                                Oh My...a chocolate malted is one of the wonders of the world!

                              3. re: Motosport

                                YESSS!!! Make mine double chocolate, please.