Concrete Is The Chilly Dessert That Has Nothing To Do With Construction

In the grand realm of milkshakes, it's interesting that something so simple — a blitzed blend of ice cream and mix-ins — can have such a wide variety of textures. There's the light and creamy, like the McFlurry, the finely crystallized, like the Wendy's Frosty, and even the gravity-defying, like the Dairy Queen Blizzard. But for some, one frozen treat reigns supreme, and it's marked by a stiff texture that requires a hefty spoon and elbow grease to get to the good stuff. 

Known as "concrete," this frozen treat style is set apart by its rigid texture, suspending cookie bits, crunchy nuts, and ribbons of caramel in a mix that's nearly as unyielding as construction concrete. Why does this dessert have such a thick texture? Much of it has to do with its egg-rich base. Concrete is essentially frozen custard blended with various mix-ins, from M&Ms to cookie dough. Unlike ice cream-based milkshakes, which use dairy rather than eggs for their richness, frozen custard freezes at higher temperatures, meaning it will solidify faster and not provide as much of a cold shock to your taste buds. Concrete also has less air in it than typical ice cream (think 20% air versus 50% air), which also makes it thicker. It all culminates into a perfectly dense frozen treat.        

The custard-rich take on milkshakes

So who do we have to thank for the idea of blending up frozen custard rather than ice cream in these undrinkable milkshakes? Concrete has been around since 1959 when Ted Drewes debuted the thick treat at his frozen custard stand in St. Louis. Long before Dairy Queen was flipping its Blizzards, the Ted Drewes custard stand was offering a concrete treat so thick that they often held it upside down to demonstrate its compact sturdiness. It wasn't long before the idea caught on to other restaurant chains. By the 1980s, you could find it at Wisconsin-based fast food chain Culver's, which called the special menu item "Concrete Mixers," and at Missouri's Andy's Frozen Custard; concrete has been available as a fast food chiller ever since.  

While concrete may not be a staple in every establishment that serves frozen treats, you still find it at Culver's, and more recently, at Shake Shack. Better yet, if you're in St. Louis, you can head to a Ted Drewes stand location and taste the original. Just don't forget your spoons — straws won't make the cut with this hefty treat.