Milkshake Vs Malt: What's The Difference?

Milkshakes and malts. The names alone evoke images of 1950s hangouts where teenagers would gather to grab a bite and groove to the jukebox. Such locations went by many names — soda fountains, soda shops, and malt shops were among them. According to Delighted Cooking, the first malt shop appeared in the early 1900s. These shops were usually located in a drugstore, utilized a countertop for service, and only served drinks. In an effort to attract returning customers, owners added easy-to-cook foods like burgers and fries. These owners also saw the draw of the newly invented jukeboxes in the 1930s and '40s, and soon, the teens would follow the music.

The Greatest Generation blog suggests that soda fountains in the 1950s were much more than eateries. Rather, they were places where people connected, similar to the way our modern generation connects over social media. Whenever such a place is depicted in films or television shows, one thing is a staple in every scene: Someone is always sipping a cold, sweet confection from a tall glass usually topped with whipped cream and a bright red cherry. It's a milkshake ... or is it a malt? What's the difference?

Looks can be deceiving

While milkshakes and malts are visually indistinguishable, as Masterclass points out, the two are actually different from each other. A milkshake is a mixture of milk, ice cream, and mix-ins (such as flavored syrups, fruits, or candies), blended or shaken until combined. A malt has fundamentally the same setup with the addition of malted milk powder, which is comprised of powdered whole milk, malted barley, and wheat flour. It gives the shake a rich, toasty taste (think malted milk balls) and a thicker consistency. 

In addition, a malt has a slightly higher amount of nutrients due to the barley in the powder (via Masterclass), though it won't cut the calorie count of this creamy indulgence. According to Healthline, studies have shown that hulled barley contains fiber and other plant chemicals that are beneficial for health. Any way you shake it, both malts and milkshakes are a delightful, somewhat nostalgic sweet treat for anyone at any age. Try taking your next daily delight up a notch with some unique ingredients.