Of all the food-related holidays, National Root Beer Float Day, on August 6th, is a worthy one to celebrate. Sit back, pour yourself a glass of frothy root beer and top it with a scoop of classic vanilla ice cream for a summertime treat that’s hard to beat.
The History of Root Beer Floats
Without root beer, the root beer float would have never been. Root beer has a long history. It dates back as far as 1265 when folks in the British Isles made a beverage of dandelion and durdock roots. The slightly fizzy soft drink was popular with those that could afford it. Before our modern-day sanitation practices, drinking water from streams and ponds was likely to make one ill. Fermented beers were a healthier alternative.
Root beer production and consumption continued throughout history and made its way over the ocean to Colonial America and remained popular for generations. It was made from a variety of roots and barks. In 1876, Charles Hires introduced a root beer made from a mixture of over 25 roots, herbs and berries. The drink became so popular, he began bottling it and selling it as a soft drink in 1893.
It was around the same time that Frank Wisner, owner of a soda fountain in Colorado, put a scoop of ice cream in his root beer, creating a dessert he named a “Black Cow”. The concoction became wildly popular and spawned a whole array of ice cream and soda floats.
In celebration of the tasty holiday that is National Root Beer Float Day, A&W Restaurants have been know to give out their signiture floats for free, so if you have a location nearby you might want to stop by and pick one up!
Variations on the Root Beer Float
It’s easy to come up with Root Beer Float variations. Simply add ice cream of any flavor to your favorite soda. Vanilla ice cream floated in regular cola is often called a “Brown Cow”. But, you can add vanilla ice cream to orange or grape soda. Or, experiment with different flavors of ice cream in different sodas.
Add a scoop of chocolate ice cream to cherry cola. Or, mix black cherry ice cream with lemon-lime soda. The point is that you can get creative and combine any two flavors that catch your interest.
Celebrate the long history of root beer by enjoying a float on National Root Beer Float Day. Whether you get creative or stick with the classic root beer float, you’ll be joining a long line of root beer lovers that reached back for generations.