When I was a teenager growing up in
California, I lived within walking distance of an Arby’s fast food
place. Sometimes, when I had enough allowance left over after a visit to the
record store (yes, record store—I’m
150 years old), I would walk to Arby’s for a Black Cow—a root beer-flavored
shake (not a float).
My Arby’s sold the Black Cow all the time, not just during “Black Cow Month,” the way some franchises did, so I could indulge whenever I had the money, or when I could talk my mom into stopping there for lunch. Eventually I grew up and moved away and spent my disposable income on things other than Black Cows, but for years, every time we stopped at an Arby’s, I always hoped they’d have a Black Cow shake on the menu. Arby’s eventually discontinued the shake altogether and I went into mourning.
Now, thanks to the magic of the internet, I can satisfy my Black Cow cravings. However, as I was looking up information on the Black Cow, I discovered that the Arby’s version, a vanilla shake made with root beer flavored syrup, was an imposter. Generally, the term Black Cow refers to a root beer float, sometimes with chocolate syrup added to it! Now there’s a marvelous concept! Chocolate makes everything better. And if you use cola instead of root beer, it’s called a Brown Cow. Or sometimes the other way around. Or sometimes, it’s a root beer float made with chocolate ice cream. It gets a little confusing. Anyway, according to Wikipedia, the first Black Cow was what we now call a root beer float and debuted on
19, 1893. Frank J. Wisner had been producing soda waters for the people
and wanted to come up with a drink the children would like. One night, inspired
by the snow topping Cripple Creek, CO
(it reminded him of vanilla ice cream), he added a scoop of ice cream to the
soda the kids liked: Myers Avenue Red root beer. The drink was hit, and the
children shortened the original name, “Black Cow Mountain” to “Black Cow.” Cow Mountain
With this information in hand, I decided to try several versions of the Black Cow—a root beer float with chocolate syrup, a vanilla shake with root beer extract and this: Black Cow Ice Cream! All in the name of science, and all for you, I might add. I know this is the kind of hard-hitting experimentation you look for when you visit Catching Happiness.
The verdict: The ice cream tastes like a good chocolate ice cream with a root beer aftertaste—good on its own and makes a yummy root beer float. However, it’s just enough trouble to make that I probably won’t do it again. The vanilla shake with root beer extract was close, but a little bland. The winner? The root beer float with chocolate syrup! That’s what I’ll reach for the next time I want to satisfy my nostalgic craving for a Black Cow.
|The aftermath of making the ice cream|