For those of you who have been following along, this is part of my "Dinner and a Movie: White Christmas" series! A "malted" makes an appearance in my favorite club car scene as Bob, Phil, Betty, and Judy make their way from Florida to Vermont. As they order some late-night snacks, Judy orders a "malted" from the bartender (who, coincidentally, I believe is the only Black person in the entire movie). What she means of course, is a malted milkshake - vanilla, not chocolate. And while I love malted everything, from chocolate-covered malted milk balls to malted milkshakes, this special ingredient has its roots in the brewing industry.
Malt is made from barley and was originally a primary ingredient in beer (malt-based beers are some of the only ones I'll drink - I prefer them to hops-fermented ones), and later whiskey. Barley is partially sprouted and then dried and ground to create malt. In the 19th century it also became an industrial baking product, helping to give sweetness and a nice crust to breads. But in the 1870s, British pharmacist James Horlicks was trying to come up with an alternative food to raw milk for infants and a nutritional supplement for invalids. Milk at the time was rarely pasteurized and could often infect children with diseases. Lacking funds, he emigrated to Racine, Wisconsin, where his younger brother already lived. By the 1880s the brothers had patented a fortified gruel that they dried and ground, containing malted barley, ground grains, and dried milk. Developed as a water-soluble food for infants, it was quickly adopted in both tropical climates and polar expeditions for its shelf stability, palatability, and nutritional content. Horlick's brand malted milk became the industry standard and was adopted by the Temperance movement as well, showing up in soda fountains and in ice creams.
In 1927, Carnation launched its own brand of malted milk and soon chocolate options were available on the market as well. Ovaltine, a malted milk powder that originally also contained eggs, was developed in Switzerland in the 1900s (originally with the name "Ovomaltine"). By the time we get to White Christmas in 1954, malted milkshakes, including chocolate malts, were a fixture of diners and soda fountains (and, apparently, trains) everywhere.
Today, Carnation is one of the few malted milk powders widely available, and that's what I used. They also had a recipe for malted milkshakes right on the back of the container.
Vanilla Malted Milkshakes
This recipe is per serving.
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
3/4 cup whole milk
teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons malted milk powder
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
This did make a very good milkshake - the ratio of ice cream to milk was just about perfect. Although it was maybe a little more liquidy than I like, it didn't get ice crystals, as you sometimes do with homemade milkshakes. That being said, three tablespoons of malted milk powder is a LOT, and resulted in a very strong malted milk flavor. If you're unsure of how fond you are of malted milk, I would cut it down to two tablespoons.
This makes about 12-16 ounces, so make sure to pour it into a tall glass and top it with whipped cream.
Be sure to follow the White Christmas tag or visit the original menu post for the rest of the White Christmas Dinner and a Movie menu. Are you going to make this, or another beverage from the list?
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Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's Food History Happy Hour! In this episode we made the Ice-Cream Soda-Water from Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks (1869). As I went through the laborious process of hand-shaving ice from a block, we briefly discussed the history of ice harvesting and the first uses of soda fountains.
We also discussed all things hot dog! Including the history of hot dogs, how they are made, their prevalence at beaches, ball parks, and fairs, regional variations in hot dog toppings, the origin of the corn dog, and the use of hot dogs in American diplomacy, including famously by Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt in Hyde Park when they entertained King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 1939. We also discussed sweet v. savory cocktails in history, uses for leftover hot dog buns, and more. Check it out!
Ice-Cream Soda-Water (1869)
In my research for last week's episode into the origins of the root beer float, I found reference in the 1860s to soda fountains and the invention of the ice cream soda that was simply ice and cream and soda water. So it was fun to discover this recipe in the cocktail guide Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks (1869).
The original recipe doesn't have much direction, but here it is:
Ice-Cream Soda-Water - Equal quantity of fruit syrup and cream; double the same of shaven ice; add bottle of soda water and drink off.
Here's my recipe:
1 cup hand-shaven ice (the more the better)
1 ounce raspberry syrup (a 19th century favorite!)
1 ounce heavy cream
6-8 ounces seltzer or club soda
Place the ice in a large tumbler and pour syrup and cream over, top with seltzer, stir gently, and drink quickly.
"Dog Factory" by Thomas Edison (1904)
A Food Historian friend asked if I was going to "ruin" hot dogs for Food History Happy Hour by discussing how they are made. I didn't make any promises, but thought this Thomas Edison film was fun to watch. In it, dogs are turned into hot dogs, and hot dogs are turned back into dogs. In the background of the "factory" - which closely resembles a hot dog push cart - ropes of sausages hang on the wall labeled by type of dog.
It's a bit gross, but meant to be all in good fun - making a joke (as always) about the origins of the meat used to make hot dogs, something that still occurs today. In the end, more sausages get magically turned into dogs than vice versa.
This was a fun episode to research, and here are a few of the articles I referenced:
Thanks for watching!
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.