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F’Real: The Return of the Milkshake

Take your eyes off of any sector in this innovation-driven tech culture and in three years everything has changed. And now you can taste the change. F’Real.

F’Real, that is, as in milkshakes.

This surprising by-the-side-of-the-road innovation took me by surprise last year in a gas-station/convenience-store just outside of Grass Valley, California. I was looking at an hour and a half behind the wheel before getting home and feeling a bit peckish and thirsty at the same time. After filling my tank of the lower-priced fossil fuel blend I went into the store to check into, well, Dorito Futures for my drive.

Once you’ve taken the Doritos you know you will have to take something else in order to, as we so delicately say, “Wash it down.” As I made my way towards the 500 linear feet of beverage choices my eye was caught by a new machine making a bold claim: “The Best Milkshake On Earth.”

Now for those of you who have memories of what were once called “soda fountains” the milkshake is one of the leading reasons for your childhood worship of these once ubiquitous institutions. Beyond even the holy milkshake lay one thing that was even better– The Malted Milkshake Milkshake. As a boy I was addicted to milkshakes and even went so far as to spring the extra nickel to get the Ultimo Optimo Malted Milkshake.

But those days were, I assumed, long gone and one was forced to either make one’s own Malted Milkshake at home (Ice cream, milk, chocolate syrup, Borden’s Malt, blend until the right consistency), or settle for the cup of aerated milk powder known as the “McDonald’s Milkshake.” I cursed an America that could have forgotten the real milkshake. Without the real milkshake being dispersed across the length and breadth of America I asked myself, “SELF, how can we possibly hope to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN?” I despaired.

Then F’real machine opened my mind and shut my mouth.

It has all the best things about the brave new age in which we are being dragged; personal choice and tasty treats with a screen for entertainment and updating while you wait for the robot to do your bidding.

I was dubious at first. (It’s a robot. How good could it be?) But then I chose the basic “Chocolate Milkshake,” took out the cup from the freezer section, dropped it into the blending cup and waited while the whir and the whirl did their magic.

What happened then? This milkshake aficionado speaks for me.

“Yo, check it out. It just went inside the Millenium Falcon.”

Since that afternoon in the convenience store, I’ve become especially alert for these machines on any route I might take. (There seem to be about 18,000 of them making America great again.)So far they seem to be only found in stores, but I am hoping that soon they will be available for homes.

Then again, maybe not. Considering that every flavor F’real milkshake seems to be on my diet it might be best if I had to commute to it.

UPDATE: It’s too late. Since I last checked three months back the closest F’real was at least 40 miles away. Now they’ve invaded Paradise itself. Still, I have to be strong. I have to show I have real willpower.

UPDATE 2: I am deeply ashamed to confess that after discovering one of the F’Real machines within two miles of my house I resisted its Siren call for less than 30 minutes.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chuck June 30, 2018, 11:07 AM

    There is one of those machines down the street and I’ve been tempted to give it a try for my summer ice cream fix. Thanks for the review.

  • Bones June 30, 2018, 11:12 AM

    WA Rt. 20 and Four Corners Rd., Pt Townsend. Boom! I’m sold.

  • Roy Lofquist June 30, 2018, 11:56 AM

    When I was a kid, back in the dark ages, my dad owned a restaurant with an old fashioned soda fountain. It was in the Boston area which meant that things had funny names but that was OK because everybody talked funny. Soda pop was called “tonic” and milkshakes were called “frappes”. My brother and I, naturally, made every possible combination of 20 different flavors of ice cream and maybe 10 different syrups. The very best of all was a mocha malted frappe. We couldn’t agree whether chocolate ice cream and coffee syrup was the best, or maybe coffee ice cream and chocolate syrup.

    He sold the restaurant and we moved to California. For about a year I’d get real funny looks when I ordered a frappe or a tonic.

  • BillH June 30, 2018, 12:47 PM

    Well slap my ass and call me Sally. There’s one at a gas station a couple miles away here in south central Alabama. If there’s one here, there must be one everywhere.

  • Terry June 30, 2018, 1:20 PM

    Wow, I hope that Chocolate malt comes here! Used to love a thick, thick chocolate malt from the Fosters Freeze where I grew up.

  • AbigailAdams June 30, 2018, 1:29 PM

    Gerard, If you give up those Mexican sodas and their ghastly, garish colors and all that SUGAR, you should be good to go with F’Real in moderation. 🙂

    (Didn’t know there was a Stratton’s Market in Paradise.)

  • Haxo Angmark June 30, 2018, 1:37 PM

    wish I hadn’t read this: I thought the McD shake was OK, now it’ll never taste good again.

  • Vanderleun June 30, 2018, 2:00 PM

    I’ve let the Mexican sodas go, Abigail.

    As for Stratton’s Market, it’s just down the road from where I lived as a child in Paradise. Today was the first time I’ve been in the store in sixty years.

    But I shall return.

  • I.C.Nielsen June 30, 2018, 2:21 PM

    One can still get a Chocolate malted at Michael’s Dairy Ocean Ave, New London, Ct. Yes the ice cream is made on site, and the malt is two bits xtra. None. Better. And I make my own ice cream. Unfortunately we’re awash in libprogs. My change up malted is Banana with a real Banana blended in. Makes me feel like I’m 8 yrs. old again.

  • ghostsniper June 30, 2018, 2:25 PM

    Perfect timing. My wife is a milkshake freek. Of the REAL milkshake variety, of which, until today, hasn’t existed since her yoot. Just yesterday her addiction got the best of her and we both jumped in my ride and drove 30 miles to Steak N Shake to try one of their milkshakes for the first time. She wasn’t impressed, said it had too much whipped cream and the milkshake itself tasted like all the others out there.

    So now you tell me about this, and I find out there is one at the Speedway 6 miles from here.
    Whoa. As my life effort is to keep my baby satisfied all of my life, about 3 seconds after I click “submit” I’ll be layin’ rubber southbound to what better be her nirvana, and I don’t care how much it costs.

  • Julie June 30, 2018, 2:48 PM

    I tried one of these for the first time last weekend. Actually, it was a pina colada smoothie, (perfect follow-up to a morning spent outside in steamy Florida), but that’s just a different flavor variety. Grabbed one out of the freezer without realizing it had to go in the mixer; the owner of the store took great delight in showing me how it worked, and with reason. Fun machine, great cold treats, what’s not to love?

    Ghost, question: how do you think it blends the shakes without sticking a paddle of some kind in the cup? Just vibration?

  • Patvann June 30, 2018, 3:05 PM

    WELL????? How was the milkshake?!?!?! Dammit man! Breaths have been baited!

  • Vanderleun June 30, 2018, 3:17 PM

    Superb in all ways. Not as good as those of the ancient of days, but still fresh, cold, and satisfying.

  • Fred June 30, 2018, 4:19 PM

    There is one on every corner!!! Ok, I’m agsadurating but there are 24 nearby and…

    0.88 MILES AWAY!

    I’ll be back in a few with a hot off the presses personal review.

  • Dr. Mabuse June 30, 2018, 4:19 PM

    OMG they’re in Canada too! There’s one less than 2 miles away from home. I foresee a trip there with my daughter next week.

  • Jewel June 30, 2018, 4:34 PM

    Had to give up milkshakes for a permanent Diabetic Lent. But there are Amish dairies where they have ice cream parlors just beyond the cow house…and the milk shakes? Sigh! Contented regret. Banana milkshakes were my favorite. Never more. Never more.

  • Fred June 30, 2018, 4:51 PM

    The price point is a little high, at 3.00, for the amount of product. But everything at quicky stop gas stations is overpriced. Smart product placement from a profitability perspective.

    There were 2 machines side by side, no waiting!

    The taste was ok…and then…I couldn’t stop eating it. Chocolate was my choice.

    I got the medium thickness, it actually disappeared all of the way up, unlike the video. I’m guessing that the thickness decides how far it goes up into the Super Galactic Voltronifying Transmogrifier.

    The bottom of the cup interestingly, has a spiral configuration…so I think that the Super Galactic Voltronifying Transmogrifier spins the cup. That was unexpected.

    The ingredients are problematic if you eat natural. Yes, there are Ice Creams with zero additives. And no, I wouldn’t expect a gas station milkshake to be healthy.

    Bottom line; Good, expensive, but good.

  • bfwebster June 30, 2018, 6:16 PM

    Was browsing the web while enjoying a machaca torta and some beef taquitos at Beto’s in Springville (UT). Came to your fine site (it’s on my daily browse list), read this article, thought ‘Huh. Never heard of this.’ Did a search at the F’Real website and like 20 popped up in Utah County, including one less than a mile north of my house. Went straight there, did not pass Go, got a chocolate shake.

    Good. Solid good. No, not the best I ever had (my lifetime favorite is a chocolate chip malt [extra malt] from Baskin Robbins), but better than the usual fast food glop.

    Trying ‘cake batter’ next.

  • Jewel June 30, 2018, 6:46 PM

    Maybe I will search for a keto version of a banana milkshake to, you know, help out with the IF LCHF OMAD thing I got going on.

  • Old Fert June 30, 2018, 11:01 PM

    Only ones close by are on the Army post about five miles away. None in our town (yet). May have to go check it out.

  • Suburbanbanshee July 1, 2018, 5:34 AM

    Re: the permanent diabetic Lent — You may know this, but there are some very good things you can do with smoothies made of unsweetened cocoa and frozen, unsweetened almond milk. Not the same, no, but not bad. I am told that things like ginger or lime juice are also quite nice with almond milk smoothies.

  • LS July 1, 2018, 6:56 AM

    I don’t understand the point of traveling a distance for something that can easily be made at home.
    Been making milkshakes at home since I was a teenager.
    Am I missing something?

  • Walt Gottesman July 1, 2018, 8:37 AM

    O.My Everlovin’ G. Never before heard of F’Real Shakes but, according to their website, at least one of their machines is in a gas station 1.49 miles from us, just waiting for us on this hot day. The soda fountains where we used to hang out are all gone now but we can, after 43+ years of marriage still drink a milkshake to their memory and dream of them. A tip of the hat to you Mr. GVL. Thanks!

  • JiminAlaska July 1, 2018, 9:15 AM

    I’ll be damned, I thought I’d have to go at least 2145 miles down to Seattle to find a f’real.
    I typed my zip code into their site and found there’s one less than 12 miles away at Siourdough’s in North Pole!

  • Walt Gottesman July 1, 2018, 11:48 AM

    The chocolate one was good tasting and good slurping consistency. Had to first convince the wife (after looking at the F’Real website) that the machine is self-rinsing after each use and steam cleans itself every 24 hours. She was skeptical about using it if it was left to the employees there to clean it. She didn’t like it that corn syrup was listed among the ingredients but she did like the taste. The experience was not like being at the old soda fountain but it was good for a laugh. Thanks. Happy 4th to you and yours!

  • Johnny July 1, 2018, 1:53 PM

    I hope you bought a load of their stock before you posted this [1/2 mile for me].

  • ghostsniper July 1, 2018, 1:59 PM

    What a drag.
    Like the Terminator said, “I’ll be back.”

  • Kerry July 1, 2018, 4:05 PM

    Had to try one today after reading and watching the post last night, and there are numerous options near my home in Dallas. Great consistency, real flavor, not too expensive–your basic weight management nightmare. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Gordon Scott July 1, 2018, 5:05 PM

    I saw them the first time about six years ago in a little independent store in Pine Island MN. They’ve spread out some. Every Holiday store has one now, Holiday being a regional chain. As for the price, it seems a bit high, but really, it isn’t these days. McDonalds will charge you about the same and it’s not as good.

    We have four or so great ice cream parlors here. I have been known to get a milkshake at one, and it’s about $2 more than the F’Real.

    The company owes you some courtesy passes, no doubt!

  • Dhmosquito July 1, 2018, 5:19 PM

    Gerard! I generally get a “slurpee” frozen coke at a local Loaf ‘n’ Jug after mowing on a hot day (like I did today) and it really cools me off. Today, though, I discovered the “Big D” had F’real and it is even closer to my house. The chocolate was outstanding! I did the “regular” thickness but found the straw inneffective, except as a makeshift spoon. As I walked in, I asked the clerk if the F’real was any good, and he replied, “Oh, yeah!” I’d say he was correct. Thanks for the tip.

  • Vanderleun July 1, 2018, 5:29 PM

    The pleasure is to serve. I’m going to branch out from my basic flavors this week.

  • Charley HuaCu July 2, 2018, 6:00 AM

    Houston Heights, 1950, soda fountain at the local drugstore (Balfanz Pharmacy)Banana malt so thick the long handle spoon had to be pushed into the mix, wouldn’t sink and would stay upright centered in the malt. 50 cents would get you one with a hamburger to die for. Gone now along with the Mading’s chain that could not quite compete with those malts. Dangit!

  • Vanderleun July 2, 2018, 10:12 AM

    MY plan for greater and great access to F’real is going forward with this email from this morning.

    Hey, Gerard!

    Thanks for your email! We LOVE your review and we’re totally stoked to hear you’re enjoying f’real! We’d like to send you a T-shirt and some coupons to share our love right back!! Let us know a size and your address and we’ll get that sent your way!! Thank you for being a loyal f’natic!!

    Speak with you soon, ”

    Of course I would be more than happy to pay and keep paying….

  • Anonymous July 2, 2018, 12:28 PM

    OK, you grab the flavor of your choice from the glass fronted small frig on the bottom, then you tear the foil top off and sit the 1/3 filled frozen concoction in the silver cup, you then touch the icon of choice for the thickness of the mix on the screen, and the cup immediately elevates itself up into the machine. The screen says it is mixing and to enjoy the music which has started playing. Subway is noisy and the music is low so I didn’t hear much. It took longer than I expected, to mix, maybe 2 mins. Finally it said it was ready and the cup lowered down to it’s previous location. As I grabbed it cold water droplets from above got on my hand. I looked into the cup and there was a swirl design in the now liquidish frozen concoction. My impression is that indeed a spinner went into the cup and after removal it was rinsed off, ready for the next one. (I suppose it’s possible for a foreign entity to be placed inside the cup prior to putting it in the silver cup that would then get on the spinner that I am assuming mixes the thing, but what sane person would do such a thing?)

    That f’real machine is locacted in a large beverage island right in the middle of the Speedway and everyday all day long hundreds of people go past it and/or use it. I have gotten plenty of muds (coffees) there and have even tried once or twice a frozen slurpy like beverage that comes out of a machine that is located right next to the f’real machine. I never really looked at the f’real machine much because it is low to the floor. The whole thing goes from the floor up to about maybe 6 and half feet tall. It’s a busy island and unless you stand there and interrogate the whole thing you won’t know what all it holds. It’s possible that f’real machine has been there for years, I dunno.

    There was no price on the product or machine and I didn’t keep the receipt and paid with cash so I don’t know how much it cost. My wife said it tasted pretty good and I didn’t get one for myself. To be truthful, it took about 15 minutes to get home from the speedway cause I was behind an asshole that has all the time in the world and there was a whole fleet of tree trimmers along the road too, so what my wife received was not exactly what was delivered immediately out of the machine. Now, 2 hrs later, I kinda wish I got one for me.

  • Gordon Scott July 2, 2018, 5:05 PM

    Well, Gerard got my wants up, and I dragged the wife to Izzy’s, a local ice creamery in Minneapolis (it does not take much dragging to get her to go to Izzy’s). We started going there about 18 years ago, when the whole place was in a storefront 20 feet wide, with the ice cream making area down one side, and the display freezer down the other. Now they have a second location, and there were about 100 people in line ahead of us. But the staff is very well trained, and the line moves quickly, and in about 20 minutes we were inside the store, and a young wench came to us and took our orders. One chocolate malt, one strawberry malt, both large, cost $20. As they are being made, we proceeded past the freezer with 32 flavors inside. I sampled Swedish Picnic, which oddly featured raspberries instead of lingonberries, but no matter–it was great, with the raspberry flavor stunningly fresh. Our malts, made to our specifications as to thickness, whipped cream and very good cherry on top, were wonderful. Expensive, yes, but for a once in a while treat….

  • Hangtown Bob July 4, 2018, 7:15 AM

    I make my own chocolate malts. A blender works just fine. If you want a particularly rich and smooth malt, toss in a raw egg. BTW, I use Carnation (Original) malted milk powder.