Thursday, September 18, 2014

MoFo Noshtalgia: Root Beer Floats

summer memories edition!



 all loaded up and ready to take off...  road trip! 


When I was a little girl, every summer my family would go camping. My mom, dad, brother and I would pack up our old Toyota station wagon and drive 4-5 hours to "The Lair of the Bear," a campground for alumni of UC Berkeley (where both my parents went to university). Naturally, the camping was nothing but fun - but the drive was long and hot - straight through the arid Central Valley of California. 

the notorious shenanigans of the back seat


I'm sure my brother and I were restless kids, bickering with each other and constantly asking "Are we there yet?" over and over from the back seat. For a kid - a four or five hour long drive may as well be an eternity. I remember some fun car games like "Mad Libs" and little activity books that we could play with - but I also remember lots of squabbling and whining about my brother violating "my side" of the back seat. Ha ha. We were sort of terrible. This horrible torture was joyfully interrupted by our much-anticipated annual stop at the A&W in Oakdale for lunch and a root beer float.

(In case you don't know, A&W is basically a fast-food burger chain, but their specialty is that they also offer root beer floats. Otherwise, it's just kinda burgers and fries - as far as I remember)


peace falls across the land at A&W

Nothing breaks the hot, air-conditionless misery of picking on your brother (and being picked on by your brother in return) like a stop at the A&W. At home, we never went out to A&W, and we never had root beer floats. It was only many years later that I realized there was actually an A&W in my hometown, quite close to our house - but we never went there once. But there in the desperate heat of summer, in the middle of a long drive - that lunch stop was a godsend for all of us.

Suddenly all the whining stopped. Together in the cool of the air-conditioned A&W, we all enjoyed our lunch and savored our rich, cool, creamy root beer floats.



It is quite possible that I have not had a root beer float since those days. I truly cannot remember the last time I had one. I had it in mind to make a root beer float for MoFo, so I bought a couple cans of root beer, had some soy vanilla ice cream on hand in the freezer... and was waiting for the right moment. Yesterday I was out doing errands - fussing and driving all over, and stuck in traffic, and getting hungry, and it was SO hot, and I was getting more and more uncomfortably hot as the errands wore on. When I finally got home, I found Mr VE&T in the middle of a crabby spell - and suddenly I knew what we both needed: A root beer float!

ice cream floating in root beer, surrounded by foamy fun

It was so fun! First you put in the scoop of ice cream, and then you pour the root beer over the ice cream. It gets super foamy right away! You have to pour slowly! Somehow the combo of ice cream + root beer was both familiar and surprising - since it had been so long. Together, the flavors really sparkle on your tongue and it's rich and refreshing and cool and creamy. It was also a total 100% sugar blast, which I'm not totally used to these days - so be warned. What fun it was to have this special treat again. Perhaps I won't wait 25 years until my next root beer float!

10 comments:

  1. This sounds like my childhood with my brothers, but with minor differences: we stopped at A&W after our annual apple picking jaunt, and we ALWAYS got the Bag O' Burgers and the Onion Rings. Because those onion rings... oh my gawd.

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    1. I don't even remember the onion rings - but I"m sure we got them too because my parents both love onion rings!

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  2. I totally remember going to A&W as a little kid! It was definitely a treat for us. I don't think I ever got the root beer float but I remember the tiny root beer mugs that the child size came in. And it was a drive-in with the tray of food hanging off of the window. Ah, such memories. :-)

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    1. ha ha - I love that I'm not the only one with A&W memories! <3

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  3. I still love root beer floats! I think Trader Joe's vanilla soy ice cream makes for the best floats. It gets that nice crunchy icy layer that I remember from dairy-based floats. The other ice creams I've tried just kind of have a gooey consistency with root beer poured over it. Maybe too much guar gum? My mom recently gave me my teeny tiny A&W mug from when I was little. Cute!

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    1. Becky! TJ's soy vanilla is exactly what I used and it was great! I love that you have a tiny A&W mug - how super sweet!

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  4. You can get a good float at the Cornbread Cafe if you're ever in Eugene.

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  5. I've never had a root bear float - I feel like i'm missing out! It's just starting to heat up here, and I feel like this would go pretty well with a burger and fries. I might have to save that for my non-healthy-diet day ;)

    I nominated you for a Liebster award! (http://www.oddlittlevegan.com/about-me/liebster-award-and-tofu-scramble/) Hope you don't mind :)

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  6. I still can't get down with root beer floats. I tried one at VVC and another in Austin a couple of weeks ago and they just don't work for me. It's sad, I want to like them! I do love straight up root beer though so I guess I'll stick with that!

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  7. I used to love getting root beer floats, but we never got them on road trips. I was a really weird kid because I loved being in the car for long road trips. I used to say that the drive was my favorite part of the trip! :-o

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