I’ve thought seriously about to when in time I’d travel back if given the opportunity. A few decades come to mind – maybe the 1470s, so I could chill with Da Vinci while the Renaissance was in full swing, or perhaps 500 AD so I might see exactly how the Nazca Lines were made.

I could probably make a case for any decade or century, but the 1950s take the cake. My reason is simple: It was the golden age of milkshakes.

Around the 1930s, people started inventing machines that did everything automatically, with blenders and mixers being some of the more glorious contributions to society. One guy even figured out how to neatly fold air into the mix and create more fluffy blended concoctions. Voila, the Hamilton Beach mixer was born, and by the ’50s, diners across the nation jumped into the fray.

Today’s milkshake culture has been pervaded by expensive selections that rarely have the sort of creativity or panache to merit the price tag. A proper milkshake – not the goop McDonald’s sells for $2 – costs about as much as a burger on the same menu. As a matter of fact, Sonic Drive-In executives cited their milkshakes as “one of [their] highest-volume, revenue-producing areas,” and research from Orlando’s University of Central Florida estimates that 75 percent of a shake’s price goes down as profit.

But mediocrity is a common ingredient in today’s milkshakes. I don’t know why, because they’re so easy to make. For this reason, I found a way to make three decent shakes in the comfort of Tufts’ own dining halls. You won’t have the technological resources (no Hamilton Beach mixers in sight), but all the ingredients to make a decent shake are there, ready for exploitation.

Nutella-Peanut butter shake:

1. Fill a cup about three-quarters of the way with vanilla soft-serve

2. Add a dash of milk

3. Add one heaping spoonful of Nutella

4. Add another heaping spoonful of peanut butter

Chocolate-Marshmallow shake:

1. Fill a cup about three-quarters of the way with chocolate soft-serve

2. Add a dash of chocolate milk

3. Add a spoonful or two of the marshmallow fluff (I’m very proud of myself for finally finding a use for this stuff)

4. Bonus ingredient: chocolate syrup if it’s Sundae Sunday

Mocha shake:

1. Fill a cup about one-fifth of the way with a medium roast coffee

2. Fill a second cup halfway with ice and pour the coffee over the ice to cool it a bit

3. Fill the first (coffee) cup about three-quarters of the way with chocolate soft-serve

4. Strain the now-iced coffee over the ice cream; be careful not to get any ice in there

5. Squeeze in a healthy dose of chocolate syrup

Finally, add a pinch of salt to any of these concoctions. At risk of providing a woefully oversimplified explanation, salt acts as a flavor enhancer by suppressing bitter tastes and allowing the brain to perceive the sweeter tastes of other ingredients. Anyway

After you’ve combined all your ingredients, stir like crazy. Using a fork for stirring may or may not mimic a blender better than a spoon can, but I have exactly zero scientific proof to back that up. You’ve stirred long enough when people start looking at you and at least one person has asked what you’re doing.

If you ever want to try one of these recipes but don’t want to/don’t have the confidence to make it yourself, or if you like to be waited on, I’ll happily make you one in exchange for being swiped in. Cheers!


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