Great Food Search: Milk Shakes, Part 1

Apr 28, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, The Great Food Search

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!

Milk Shakes—The Pursuit Begins

What do you want on a hot summer’s day in April? What do you expect in the Valley? Ice cream.

What do you want if you want a LOT of ice cream? A milk shake.

Where do you go for a great milk shake? Oh, the places you’ll go!

I planned to just do four locations in search of Super Shakes, but each place I investigated reminded me of another establishment that prides itself on their frosty concoctions. Therefore, prepare for the first chapter in the Shake Saga!

This Month’s Contenders

carls jr milkshakesCarl’s Jr.—5625 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno—I have fond childhood memories of Carl’s Jr., especially their milkshakes. There’s one of these fast-food havens across the intersection from a library where I work, so I boogied over on a lunch hour. I chose a Chocolate Ice Cream Milk Shake ($4.35) Chocolate is my default setting when it comes to shakes, although I was tempted by the Oreo shake. Before my eyes materialized a vision in whipped cream. Fluffy whiteness soared up above the clear plastic dome over the cup. It looked like Santa’s beard, upside down. Chocolatey, velvety, rich, and smooth. What a way to start a Great Food Search!

sonic milk shake

Sonic shake

Sonic Drive-In—827 Academy Ave., Sanger—There used to be a Burger King in Sanger, but it closed. It became an ice cream/pizza duplex, but that closed, too. It reopened as a Sonic Drive-In, the first to feature indoor seating along with its car-hop parking and drive-up window. It doesn’t look like it’s planning to leave. We tried a Strawberry Cheesecake Hand-Mixed Master Shake and a Caramel Hand-Mixed Classic Shake. A small squirt of whipped cream adorned each shake, petals of white cradling a cherry on top. The Cheesecake sported a dusting of crushed nuts. The Caramel was rich, and the Cheesecake got your attention and said “stick around, friend.”

Big Mama's milk shake

Big Mama’s milk shake

Big Mamas Burgers & Shakes—2407 Jensen Ave., Sanger—I made a mistake and ordered a small shake for $2.59, when I wanted to try their Boston Shakes. I was distracted because, along with the usual chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla options was banana and pineapple, so I went for the banana. Wow! There were bananas in the banana shake! That texture you love in a banana was in the shake, but my curiosity still said “Boston Shake.” Tonight, we gave in, returned to Big Mamas and ordered a large banana Boston Shake ($4.79). Under the whipped cream and the cherry was a layer of sliced bananas! Oh, it was glorious!

steak and shake milk shakeSteak ‘n Shake—5085 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno—It took a long time before this building finally opened, but it was worth the wait. The Steakburgers are something else, and the milk shakes? They have the classic chocolate/strawberry/vanilla varieties for $4.29, but $4.99 takes you into the land of Specialty Shakes, including Peanut Butter, Nutella, Oreo Mint, and my choice Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. The whipped cream filled the dome top, and a cherry peeked out of the opening at the top, with a dusting of nuts. The dough chunks weren’t too large, so the straw was seldom clogged. The dough gave it that down-home quality that made me smile.

The Verdict
OK, folks, my favorite of these four shakemakers was…Big Mamas. I’m crazy about the Banana Boston shake, but the quality of the regular Banana Shake was quite a surprise. My first runner up, who will finish out the term if the winner is not able to serve, is…Steak ‘n Shake because it made me smile.

What’s Next?
All right. That was round 1. Where do I go from here? My wife and I sat down and came up with a few possibilities. Comment after the article for the places you recommend. If your favorite didn’t make the list, suggest it.

Black Bear Diner
Superior Dairy—Hanford

There’s our list. Any suggestions?
(My wife is planning to add an extra day of exercise at the gym.)

Check out more food articles and more of Terrance’s Great Food Search column in our Food Fun section. And check out a KRL staff profile this week on Terrance!

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Librarian with the Fresno County Public Library and has published several short stories.


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