Why can’t I get a legit chocolate shake?

Dear Dessert Oasis,

Last night, all I wanted for dinner was a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate milkshake, so I went to a local diner and ordered exactly that. But when I sipped my shake, it was too sweet and not very chocolatey at all. I asked the waitress about it, and she said they use vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup to make their chocolate shakes.

So my question is: why don’t places use chocolate ice cream to make chocolate shakes?

No Nilla


Dearest No Nilla,

You are a treat-seeker after my own heart.

Why, indeed, don’t places use chocolate ice cream to make chocolate shakes?? Why is vanilla always the default base? Shakes, donuts, marshmallows, you name it, it’s always vanilla first and chocolate as an afterthought.

I’ll tell you why. It’s because 40% of the population prefers vanilla. (These are the people you hear saying, “Oh, I judge an ice cream shop by their vanilla.” Why not judge by their chocolate? It’s difficult to get a soft chocolate ice cream using real cocoa, and a crappy, artificial chocolate should make you walk right back out the door. Judgement complete.) And the other 60% aren’t only chocoholics. Maybe chocolate gets 30% and the rest is made up of strawberry, coffee, mint, maple, tutti-frutti, peanut butter, whatevs. Restaurants want to minimize their unused inventory and hence try to use vanilla + flavor/add-in for EVERYTHING.

Now for a coffee milkshake, let’s say, this works. It’s just like an overly creamed coffee. For peanut butter, fine, no one can drink a straight glass of peanut butter anyway. But for chocolate? Forget about it. Real chocolate lovers can sniff out a fake with half a sip. It would be more aptly named a “chocolate flavored milkshake,” and then I would know right off the bat not to order it. Also, don’t tell me a strawberry milkshake wouldn’t be better using strawberry ice cream too….

If I ruled the world, I’d have both chocolate AND vanilla options always. That’s right, I wouldn’t banish vanilla completely, but I wouldn’t allow it to carry on with its “my way or the highway” forceful antics either. I’d make the world a harmonious swirl and everyone would be treated equally in their dessert quests. But since I don’t reign supreme, here are some tips when trying to order a chocolate milkshake:

1. don’t get your hopes up – go in expecting the worst: vanilla base only.

2. look at the dessert menu – if you only see apple pie à la mode with vanilla bean, hot fudge sundae made with vanilla ice cream and nuts, brownie with a scoop of vanilla (like that’s some extra treat)….chances are they don’t have chocolate ice cream in the kitchen.

3. ask before ordering – make double sure or be double disappointed when you are served a light tan shake.

My advice today would be to go grab a pint of chocolate and make your own milkshake to help erase last night’s bad taste.

The more chocolatey the better,
Dessert Oasis

ps: here was my bfast today: the so simple but so rare maple glazed chocolate donut. think about it: why is maple glaze almost always only on a vanilla donut? why is strawberry glaze only on a vanilla donut? haven’t donut makers heard of chocolate covered strawberries? why isn’t anyone making chocolate raised donuts??!?!?! what is the world waiting for?????


Have a dessert question?  Email me at courtneysconza@gmail.com – from funnel cakes to fondue fountains, if it has sugar, I’ve probably eaten it.

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