This week I reached out for a small chocolate Frosty Dairy Dessert at Wendy’s.
Here’s the blueprint, and it’s a simple one: 12 ounces of cold chocolate stuff that once had something to do with a cow but doesn’t qualify as ice cream, ice milk, Dairy Queen-style soft ice cream, frozen yogurt, custard, a malted or a milkshake.
Total calories: 330. Fat grams: 8.
So what the heck is a “Dairy Dessert”?
“It’s a Frosty, that’s what it is!” said the helpful Wendy’s spokesman. “You’re right, it’s none of the above. It’s something completely unto itself.”
To me, “dairy dessert” is like “pasteurized cheese food product,” or the “buttery topping” that movie theaters squirt on popcorn, or anything from the “whiz” food group. It’s almost the real thing, but they got nailed on a technicality.
(If you really want to lose your lunch, read the ingredients on “potted meat product” at the supermarket. They sell it in little cans near the tuna. Don’t bother actually eating it, though, unless your favorite cut of meat is tripe.)
The Frosty goes way back with Wendy’s. It was one of only five items on the first menu when Wendy’s opened for business in 1969. The others were hamburgers, french fries, chili and Coca-Cola.
Owner Dave Thomas originally wanted to sell old-fashioned, hand-dipped milkshakes, the kind he was hooked on since childhood. But that would be too slow for fast food. So, together with his “dairy guy,” Thomas created the Frosty.
There used to be two flavors of Frosty, chocolate and vanilla. Thomas eventually dumped vanilla. A little secret: The current flavor is really a blend of chocolate and vanilla, but they call it chocolate, probably because it’s brown.
Although Wendy’s serves its Frosty in a soda cup, don’t even think about using a straw. You’ll spend the rest of your life wearing a truss. Use a spoon.
And don’t swallow too fast. You’ll get an ice cream headache in the back of your throat - even though a Frosty is not ice cream. (I don’t want to get a threatening cease-anddesist letter from the powerful ice cream lobby.)
Whatever it is, a Frosty is a top-notch treat, one of the few decent desserts in the world of fast food. The soft ice cream at McDonald’s is too low-fat to be any good, and Burger King can’t be serious with its petrified apple pie.
If you insist on putting a label on the Frosty, try “frozen milkshake.”
What I like to do is take my Frosty home and jazz it up. I dump in maraschino cherries and a jigger of Hershey’s syrup. Sometimes on the weekend I get totally wacky and toss in walnut bits.
Trust me, you don’t want to hear what I do with “potted meat product.”