You probably know the delicious, sweet taste of a milkshake well, but you may not be familiar with its long history. At Soda Jerks in Edmonton, milkshakes are one of our passions, right alongside our tasty, gourmet burgers, which is why we offer a variety of tasty flavors and toppings to choose from. In this blog, we will go over the history of the tastiest dessert ever invented.

Early history (1885 to 1940)

The word “milkshake” first appeared in print in 1885. At this time, milkshakes were an eggnog-like drink made with whiskey. However, by the turn of the century, milkshakes were no longer alcoholic and were made with flavored syrups, such as vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry. By 1930, milkshakes referred to the sweet treat we know today, with ice cream, milk, and syrup blended together.

The evolution of this drink has a lot to do with the invention of electric blenders. Before blenders were widely available, milkshakes were hand-shaken, which is why they were an eggnog-like texture. In 1911, Hamilton Beach invented a drink mixer that was adopted by soda fountains, making milkshakes easier than ever to make. In 1922, Steven Poplawski invented the blender, and that was when milkshakes began to be made in their whipped, modern form.

In 1922 in Chicago, Walgreens employee Ivar “Pop” Coulson added vanilla ice cream to their usual malted milk drink, inventing the first malted milkshake. With time, it spread, making it one of the most popular drinks at soda fountains. In the 1930s, freon-cooled refrigerators were invented, making it possible to automate milkshakes safely. In 1936, Earl Prince invented the Multimixer, which was able to dispense five milkshakes simultaneously and automatically.

The heyday (1950s)Experiment with milkshake toppings, from bacon to cereal, at Soda Jerks

By the 1950s, milkshakes were prevalent in diners, lunch counters, soda foundations, and burger joints. These establishments are what many diners today are based off of, from vinyl booths to checkerboard linoleum tiles to jukeboxes to neon signs. They usually featured a milkshake mixing machine of some kind, and milkshakes were served in tall glasses.

In the 50s, different parts of the US had different terms for milkshakes. Some included “frappes,” “cabinets,” “velvets,” “frosted shakes,” and “concrete.” The concrete was a specific type of milkshake made so thick that it could be turned upside down without dripping.


Today, milkshakes are widely sold in fast food restaurants and diners alike. While it may call to mind images of poodle skirts, sock hops, and saddle shoes, milkshakes have seen a recent swell in popularity. This may be because we have so many more potential milkshake flavors than before. At Soda Jerks, you can choose from a variety of unusual flavors and toppings, including mini-donuts, bacon, and Cap’n Crunch! Additionally, if you are of legal age, you can indulge in an alcoholic milkshake as well. With so many different options, there is a delicious, frosty milkshake at Soda Jerks for everyone.

When you are craving a gourmet milkshake, look no further than Soda Jerks! We are Edmonton’s favorite burger restaurant and shake shop. Come in today!