Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ice Cream Sodas & Floats with Julie and Ivy

Three different ways to cool off this summer!

I've already explained my enthusiasm for s'mores at length to you guys, but I have a slight confession to make: they're actually in direct competition for my other favorite "summer time" dessert, which is traditionally a little easier to get year round than my good pal the s'more. Root beer floats are incredibly simple, super tasty, and pretty much the greatest thing anyone working a soda fountain has come up with.

Unfortunately, root beer floats themselves aren't really worth their own blog post. They're the textbook definition of simple: put vanilla ice cream in a glass, pour root beer over it, eat immediately. But don't worry, this post does feature something that's a little bit more complicated, and probably isn't something you've had before! I know I'd never really heard of it before digging out a certain old cookbook to get ideas.

So get excited, because this is definitely a tasty addition to any summery menu, and is simple enough that literally any aspiring chef can whip one up in a jiffy.

Ice cream sodas - or floats, whichever you want to call them - have been around for much longer than Julie and Ivy have. Like most creative culinary inventions, the origins are a little murky, with a couple different people claiming to be the first person to think ice cream clearly needed some soda poured over it to make both that much better. One claim goes back to 1872, but the most commonly accepted origin story for this tasty treat comes from two years ahead in 1874. During the country's sesquicentennial celebration, a Robert McCay Green ran out of ice to keep his soda cool, and decided decided to use ice cream instead. His later accounts of the story claim he was trying to steal business away from a competing soda vendor, and after doing some experiments, began to serve vanilla ice cream with soda water and a variety of different flavored syrups. The drink quickly became incredibly popular throughout the country, and was a particular favorite of teenagers and young adults.

Like most things young people like that older generations are unfamiliar with, people began to worry about what it was doing to the youth of America and tried to control or even ban production of the drink. This was also because at the time, soda was still considered some kind of miracle drug, and so people believed it required similar control and restrictions that alcohol or other medicinal items did. Because of that, they couldn't be sold on Sunday, which led to people developing an equally delicious treat to serve instead - the ice cream sundae.

There are dozens - probably more like hundreds - of different recipes for ice cream sodas and floats, varying from the super simple to the slightly more complicated, but most of them are pretty easy to make. Some are regional, and some have very misleading names - the Boston cooler, for example, has literally nothing to do with Boston. Don't ask, I don't think anyone has an explanation for where that one got its name.

So with all that said, why did I pick our two friends from the 1970's to host? Two reasons: Julie actually drinks root beer floats in Julie and the Eagles as part of her birthday/eagle release celebration, and because Betty Crocker's NEW Boys and Girls Cookbook which I also talked about when we made tuna noodle casserole has a bunch of recipes for ice cream sodas.

A couple of them are the standard take vanilla ice cream, pour soda over it, enjoy sort of treats, but one that I thought looked tasty was the Blushing Pink Soda, which is primarily strawberry soda based. I don't think I've ever had strawberry soda before, so that was another fun level of trying new things here.

You start off by crushing up about two tablespoons of strawberries, about a tablespoon and a half of canned crushed pineapple, and then add it to your glass with three tablespoons of vanilla ice cream. This gets about a quarter cup of soda poured on top of it before you add anything else.

You then fill the glass to the top with vanilla ice cream (without packing it down so the soda has some room to breathe!) and pour strawberry soda on top of it.

This part can get a little tricky because of how foamy the soda gets when it reacts with the ice cream, but it still looks pretty, regardless!

So there you have it. We also made root beer floats and grape soda floats, and I think it's pretty safe to say that the root beer floats were hands down the most popular since we don't have any root beer left. I can't say I disagree with people! There's just something very simple and classic about a root beer float, and it's something I like ordering out or making on my own pretty much any time I'm near the ingredients.

But that said, the "blushing pink soda" was really tasty, too. The pieces of real fruit added a nice non artificial flavor to the drink that I don't think could have been said if you'd just used the soda for the fruit flavor, and really, how could you go wrong with ice cream and soda? It's something people have been enjoying for over a hundred years!

Now to figure out what to do with all this grape soda in my fridge...


  1. *From Julie's doll mom, Sharry:*

    (As I quoted on Doll Diaries)...

    When I moved from NY to CA, I couldn’t get an ice-cream soda to save my life. On the East Coast, it’s an ice-cream soda, where you combine ice-cream, soda and a bit of milk, and mix them all together. But here on the West Coast, it’s a “float”; just a scoop of ice-cream on top of a soda. Weird, huh? I'm gonna have to get that cookbook again. I remember seeing all those great pictures of the desserts and floats. It would be nice to try making them.

    1. I live on the East Coast, and I've actually heard it both ways depending on what you're ordering! The book is definitely a lot of fun, even if some of the recipes sound a little weird, ahaha. But I guess that's kid's cookbooks in general, some of them have really weird ideas in them.

  2. I love how visually interesting that Blushing Pink Soda turned out to be - especially thing I usually think of floats as tasty-but-ugly - this one actually looks as appetizing at it (I assume) is!

    1. I was really impressed too! It reminds me of a Lava Flow, which I think is half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri? But I think I like this better, it was really tasty. c8

  3. More interesting historical information! Who knew ice cream with soda could be so scandalous? And I love the walk down memory lane for me...that cookbook was a favorite of mine when I was Julie and Ivy's age. Love it!

    1. It's always funny to think people could get that upset over something that to us is no big deal! I still can't get over old fashioned ideas of modesty - I know I'd be miserable not being able to wear shorts or short sleeves!