One of the hallmarks of a hot summer day is indulging in a delicious milkshake. And in Utah at least, it’s common knowledge that residents are rabid fans of ice cream — the prime ingredient in a true milkshake. Out with calling Utah the Beehive State. The “ice cream state” would be more accurate.
Here are some of the creamiest, thickest, yummiest milkshakes to pass your lips. And if you aren’t already planning a visit to the towns where these hot spots reside, you may want to change your travel plans. They just might be that good.
By Jon Lamoreaux
Photos by Kevin Kiernan
Iceberg is one of the original milkshake landmarks in Utah and is evidence that when it comes to shakes, bigger is better. It started when George Lamar Sorenson opened a single eatery in Millcreek in 1960. Iceberg serves excellent food too, but Sorenson’s claim to fame was that his over-the-top shakes (they come in two sizes — mini and regular — and both are huge) were made by hand and included 75 possible toppings. In 1996, the Christensen family took over and began an ambitious expansion project that now includes 16 Iceberg locations in three states (nine in Utah, five in California, and two in Arizona). Luckily, Sorenson, who passed away just last November, lived long enough to see his little business become a Utah institution.
Dairy Keen — Home of the Train
Sometimes desperation breeds inspiration and that is true for the Mawhinney family who started Dairy Keen 70 years ago. Owners of a piece of property in Heber containing a defunct Dairy Queen, they ended up opening their own fast food restaurant when they couldn’t find a buyer for the land. They couldn’t afford a new sign, so they replaced the “Qu” with a “K.” It’s this kind of tenacity that’s made Dairy Keen — Home of the Train (yes, that is the full name) a Utah treasure. The food is excellent, but the shakes are otherworldly, winning Best of State 13 years in a row. They make them thick enough to turn upside down, and proudly claim to use only the freshest ingredients, mixing and matching, say, chocolate and raspberry, creating hundreds of unique flavors. So, come to see the train (which chugs around the ceiling of the dining area), stay for the food, but don’t leave without the “best shake in Utah.”
Kamas holds the honor of being home to Hi-Mountain (affectionately referred to by locals as “The Drug Store”) since 1918 when the original building was erected on Main Street. And it has been an attraction for visitors passing through the Uintah Mountains ever since. Known primarily for its burgers (which, along with the shakes have won several Best of State awards), Hi-Mountain does not skimp on goodies when it comes to milkshakes.
“A lot of the ingredients we use in our most popular flavors like German Chocolate Cake, Coconut Cream Pie, and Bacon and Maple are all homemade,” says owner Gaye Pace. “I think they’re really rich and fresh. When you try our Black Licorice shake, it tastes like fresh black licorice!”
Known as much for their attentive, friendly service as their amazing food, Ideal Dairy has been attracting patrons passing through Richfield for generations. Ideal Dairy began in 1926 when the Odgen family purchased a few milk cows from a neighbor and began bottling milk as a way to earn a little extra money and keep their eight kids busy. In almost no time they became a destination for ice cream as well. Today, the more than 40 flavors of homemade ice cream, as well as a diverse menu of items like rice bowls and nachos, keep the landmark alive and more popular than ever. Its most popular shake is the Peanut Butter Cup blended with homemade peanut butter cups.
Boise boasts two of the best and most iconic milkshake shops in the state. First is Fanci Freez, arguably the most popular Boise drive-in since 1947. The can’t-miss order is its famous “Boston,” which is a shake of your choice topped with a sundae of your choice. Is there a more decadent concoction than a shake and sundae in the same cup? The store also made news when it set goals of selling 100,000 shakes in 2014 and 110,000 in 2015 and smashed both targets. Fanci Freez has also expanded into a hugely popular food truck, Fanci Freez on Wheels.
Goody’s Soda Fountain
Whatever your sweet tooth is craving, Goody’s should have you covered. As much a chocolate candy shop as a place for amazing milkshakes, Goody’s has been treating the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boise since 1996, a benchmark it celebrated with a big birthday bash in June 2016.
“It’s all hand scooped and homemade including the whipped cream,” says assistant manager Megan Vottarelli. “We hand mix all the ingredients so if you ask for an Oreo shake, you’re going to get big chunks of Oreo. Our ice cream is considered ‘super premium’ meaning it contains 14 percent butter fat, which is really high and makes the shakes especially thick and creamy.”
Weiser Classic Candy
Established in the town of Weiser in 1984 by a woman with an especially popular fudge recipe, Weiser Classic Candy has, according to some, the best candy in the country, rivaling nationwide candy companies like See’s for supremacy. These days, the candy shop may be equally legendary for its incredible ice cream treats. Boasting more than 30 flavors of milkshakes, Weiser Classic Candy has enviable access to an unlimited supply of candy to mix into their shakes. Its most popular creations are the Velvet Mint and Cherry Mound shakes.
This Texas chain opened a sixth location in Jackson, Wyoming, in 2014 and with it came huge smiles from all who walked through its door. In addition to excellent shakes for all ages, what makes Liberty unique is its “adult shakes:” gluttonous concoctions with names like The Lebowski (creamy custard mixed into Patron XO Café topped off with a dash of coffee), the Nutty Monk (vanilla custard with graham cracker crumbles and Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur blended together) and the Orange Julius (orange juice and citrus-infused vodka mixed with vanilla custard).