Ice Cream Floats are a fizzy drink made with ice cream. They are similar to but not the same as Ice Cream Sodas.
Floats are simpler to make than Ice Cream Sodas. They are just pop and ice cream. The flavoured soda pop acts as a substitute for the soda water and syrup that is used for Ice Cream Sodas.
You fill a glass half full with soda pop, and then put a put scoop of ice cream carefully on top, don’t plop it in. Then, you slowly push it down in with a spoon, then top up the glass with soda pop slowly, watching that the foaming doesn’t get away on you.
You need to put the soda pop in the glass first, and then add the ice cream. If you add the ice cream first to the glass, and then add the soda pop, it will foam up on you like crazy and you’ll end up with more ice cream float on the counter than in the glass.
The classic Ice Cream Float is a Root Beer Float.
A Brown Cow float is root beer and vanilla ice cream.
There is less agreement on what constitutes a Black Cow:
- some say it is root beer, coca cola, and vanilla ice cream;
- some say it is root beer, chocolate syrup, and vanilla ice cream;
- some say it is root beer and chocolate ice cream;
- some say it is the same as a Brown Cow, just root beer and vanilla ice cream.
Print references to soda pop floats date from at least 1903: “Root Beer Cream Float touches the spot — Ayres & Taylor.” [A one-line insertion in a Reading Notices column (15 cents per insertion); Ottumwa Daily Courier (in Iowa). 7 August 1903, page 5.]
The oomph backing the argument for “Black Cows” being a synonym for “Black Cows” and “Root Beer Floats” comes from press releases done by the Cripple Creek Brewing Company of Naperville, Illinois.
According to the company’s press releases, their founder, Frank Wisner, was in Colorado, where he had staked gold claims on Cow Mountain in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
One night — the company claims to know the exact night, 19 August 1893 — Wisner looked up in the mountain in the dark, saw the snow cap shining on top, and decided to make a drink that looked like that out of the root beer that his company brewed by topping it with ice cream. He purportedly called the drink “Black Cow Mountain”or “”Blackened Cow Mountain” — black, because it was meant to depict the mountain at night. The phrase was later shortened to just “Black Cow.”
Some people think the term Ice Cream Float originated in or around New York.
In Australia, Ice Cream Floats are called “Spiders”, except at McDonald’s, which refers to them as floats.