American Classics »

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

American Classics: Vanilla Ice Cream Soda

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Up until the late 80s, the pharmacy in my hometown had a soda fountain. Yes, a real old fashioned soda fountain. This soda fountain was especially special because it was the one my mom grew up with. The same spot where she and her sisters would get an ice cream sundae for a quarter after picking up the latest Superman comic book. My personal favorite thing to order was the vanilla ice cream soda: fizzy soda water straight from the fountain, vanilla syrup, a splash of milk, and a couple generous scoops of ice cream.

Alas, the pharmacy sold off the soda fountain and I no longer have a spot to get my ice cream soda fix. While the social aspect of the ice cream soda (or in my case spinning around and around in those high stools at the Formica counter) was always part of the charm, with very little effort you can make an awesome ice cream soda in your own kitchen. The ingredients are easy enough to come by: seltzer, milk, vanilla syrup, and vanilla ice cream, but as with any deceptively simple dish, it's worthwhile to splurge on the top of the line stuff; for me that means making a quick vanilla bean simple syrup (the leftovers are great for cocktails or iced coffee!) and using either homemade ice cream or my favorite store bought vanilla. Creamy and sweet, this is makes for a nice cool down treat on a hot day, just make sure you have a straw or two on hand for optimal sipping enjoyment.


About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered literary agent by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie, a Midtown Lunch contributor, and co-author of New York à la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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