What Kids Learn
- You can make a bare-bones version of an ice-cream soda using just milk, syrup, ice cream, and seltzer.
- It takes five minutes for this tasty concoction to go from freezer to tummy.
- You can dazzle your friends with other options, including a brown cow, a purple cow, and an egg cream (which doesn’t contain eggs!).
The cookouts of our childhood featured the basics and nothing more: hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, buttered corn on the cob, and wedges of watermelon. But the highlight for us kids was always the ice-cream dessert bar, where we could pretty much make whatever we wanted. I always concocted an ice-cream soda—seltzer, milk, and syrup mixed together in a glass, and topped off with ice cream and a little whipped cream.
My own kids actually prefer ice-cream sodas to sundaes and shakes because they’re quick and easy to make. Plus, they’re creamy, frothy, sweet, and pretty! If you whip these up outdoors, use disposable glasses and keep a marker nearby so kids can label and keep track of their own confections.
What You’ll Need
- 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 cup seltzer water
- 2 scoops chocolate ice cream
- Optional toppings: whipped cream, sprinkles, mini marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, or mini chocolate chips for garnish
What to Do
- Invite your little ice-cream-soda maker to measure the chocolate syrup into a glass. Next, she can add the milk. Then, show her how to stir these ingredients together vigorously with a spoon until they are well combined.
- Next, let her pour (maybe with some assistance from you) seltzer slowly into the glass. Don’t pour too quickly or it will bubble up over the sides of the glass.Teachable Moment: Who Invented the Ice-Cream Soda?There are several stories about who really invented the ice-cream soda.
- One claims that vendor Robert McCay Green was the first to mix ice cream with soda when he ran out of sweet cream (for a similar drink) at an 1874 Philadelphia convention.
- A second tale credits Detroit candy-store owner Fred Sanders with tossing ice cream into a drink during a sweet-cream shortage. But Sanders didn’t even open a store until 1875.
- Another story indicates that Philip Mohr, an Elizabeth, NJ, confectioner, paired the ingredients together a lot earlier. But he failed to promote his confection.
- The last: A fellow who worked for Mr. Green in Philadelphia. But this gentleman, George Guy, told others that he, not his boss, was the real inventor.
- Show your ice-cream chef how to scoop the ice cream and let her add 2 scoops to her glass. She can then stir it gently.Teachable Moment: Ice-Cream-Soda Alternatives
- For the authentic ice-cream-soda experience, try making your own brown cow—also known as a root-beer float! Mix this one up using root beer and vanilla ice cream.
- Or how about a purple cow? Just switch out the root beer for grape soda. If you use orange soda instead, that’s called an orange cream.
- Another classic is the egg cream. You don’t need any eggs for this drink, though. Just mix chocolate syrup with unflavored soda and milk. Or add ice cream, if that’s your thing!
- Next, have her add the toppings, insert a straw into the glass, and enjoy the concoction. To change this up a bit, encourage your child to mix and match flavors. Let your little chef get creative with this dessert!