FOOD EXPEDITIONS: Even as Summer Winds Down, Root Beer Floats Are Still The Perfect Drink.

We all have foods that we associate with a specific event or time period. For example, you might associate cake with your birthday or your wedding. For the summer season, a lot of people might associate it with cold food and beverages, in order to beat the heat. I do associate the summer with a certain cold food. In fact, my go-to summer option combines both a classic summer food and drink. 

Yes that’s right, I am a fan of root beer floats in the summer. I think they are the perfect food for the season. It combines both ice cream and soda, and it makes for a refreshing treat, especially on a hot day. 

I have always loved ice cream. I might say it’s my favorite dessert, but I like a lot of desserts, and don’t think I can pick a favorite. Growing up in Connecticut, there are a lot of great ice cream places near me. I live about six minutes away from a Dairy Queen, and there are several great local ice cream places near me. When I would go on vacations with my family to Cape Cod, we would go to the many great ice cream places there. So ice cream has a special place in my heart. 

DID YOU KNOW? Root beer's distinctive flavor originally came from Sassafras albidum. Sassafras is a genus of three extant and one extinct species of deciduous trees in the family Lauraceae, native to eastern North America and eastern Asia. The genus is distinguished by its aromatic properties, which have made the tree useful to humans.

Sassafras oil contains safrole, an organic compound with the formula CH2O2C6H3CH2CH=CH2. It is a colorless oily liquid, although impure samples can appear yellow. A member of the phenylpropanoid family of natural products. In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of sassafras in root beer because safrole had caused cancer in mice and was a suspected carcinogen. Today, artificial sassafras flavoring is used in commercial production, though artisanal root beer can often contain natural sassafras.

Root beer, on the other hand, has always been my favorite soda. As a child, my grandmother would always have Barq’s Root Beer at her house, and we would always drink it on New Year’s Eve. I also remember drinking Mug’s Root Beer when my summer camp would order pizza for us. Lastly, my family’s favorite local pizza parlor would always have different types of root beer, and my parents would allow me to get one when we ordered from there. 

Since I love root beer and ice cream, root beer floats are an obvious favorite of mine. It isn’t a summer vacation without getting a root beer float from a favorite beach food stand or ice cream shop.  While it seems like root beer floats would be overly sugary, they aren’t. Root beer isn’t usually super sweet, which sets it apart from other sodas. Vanilla ice cream also doesn’t have a strong flavor, so you aren’t overwhelmed. 

Not every restaurant offers root beer floats as an option, so it can be something that is a real treat. If you’re torn between a soda or ice cream, this is a way you can have both. It is also a refreshing option for a hot summer day. Lastly, they’re just fun to drink, at least in my opinion. Sometimes you will get these extremely long plastic spoons, so you can eat the ice cream, and those are so much fun to use. So next time you see a root beer float on the menu in the summer, order it. 

WORDS: Anna Bechtel.

COVER IMAGE CREDIT: American Heritage Chocolate.

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