The Return of the Ice Cream Soda

Ever since I had my first chocolate ice cream soda at the soda fountain at the back of the old drugstore in the Dominion shopping mall on King Street in Sherbrooke, Quebec way back in the Sixties, I’ve been addicted to this devine concoction. But, can you find it anywhere nowadays? Milkshakes, sure. Ice cream sodas, nah. What would Mr. Robert McCay Green of Philadelphia, PA think of these developments? The story goes that at the Franklin Institute’s semicentennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1874, Mr Green was running a soda fountain there and was enjoying less than sterling results. So, in an attempt to lure customers away from a flashier competitor, Mr Green did some experimenting and came up with the idea to combine ice cream with soda water and flavoured syrups. His concoction was an instant hit, and the ice cream soda was born. Yay, Mr Green! Mr Green was so proud of his achievement that he instructed, in his will, that “Originator of the Ice Cream Soda” be engraved on his headstone.

As I grew older, my chocolate ice cream soda obsession was slaked by the yummy Diary Queen offering for which I’d drive over to the Ile Perrot Dairy Queen from Montreal, where they knew how to make it just right (1 oz chocolate syrup, a big squirt of vanilla soft ice cream topped up with carbonated soda water, a dollop of cream and a cherry on top) — served with a straw and a spoon. It was a meal in itself — probably a week’s worth of meals to be honest. I’d limit myself to about half a dozen a year, which gave me, I felt, ample time to work off the calories in between hits.

There being no Dairy Queens in England, where I’ve been living since 1991, and no place there that I’ve discovered that serves a proper ice cream soda, I’ve been bereft of my favourite treat for far too many years. But, since I’ve been in British Columbia, I’ve been eyeing up the local Dairy Queen, waiting for the right day to indulge. And today was the day! (I hope you admire my restraint). So, I packed Ralphie into the car and off we went, two girls on a mission in search of a chocolate ice cream soda.

Well, things have changed at Dairy Queen. When I asked for a chocolate ice cream soda (which, admittedly, I didn’t see on the menu board along with the noted absences of Dilly Bars and Malties), the girl behind the counter looked at me blankly and said, “Sorry, (for she was a polite Canadian), but we don’t have those.” Hmmm. The diner scene in Five Easy Pieces sprung to mind.

“Well, you have ice cream, don’t you?”

The girl said, “Well, obviously, we’re Dairy Queen.”

“And you have chocolate syrup? And soda water?”

“We’ve got chocolate syrup, but we don’t have soda water,” the girl said. “What’s that exactly?”

“Okay, that’s not a problem. Do you have Diet 7-Up?”

“Oh, sure, we’ve got that.”

“Great, we’ve got a goer,” I said. “I’d like a Diet 7-Up with ice cream, but add a little bit of chocolate sauce to it as an extra topping, then squirt on a bit of cream as another extra topping, give me a spoon and a straw and we’re good.”

The girl looked at me, perplexed. “You mean a Coke Float but with Diet 7-Up instead of Coke and some chocolate sauce and a squirt of cream — so two extra toppings?”

“That’s it. You got it.”

“Okaaayyy.” So, she whipped me up a small one (I didn’t want to go whole hog just yet), and, to finish off the order, I asked for a dollop of plain ice cream in a bowl.

“You mean a plain ice cream cone without the cone, served in a bowl?”


So, if you need to know how to order a chocolate ice cream soda and a plain ice cream in a bowel at Dairy Queen, I’ve given you all the information you need.

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The ice cream soda was very good. 🙂


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