Three hours ago, the Paste office debated what is sure to be the summer’s most divisive issue: which fast-food restaurant has the best milkshake?
Love for the milkshake is eternal. You can grow up, have kids, buy a house or become depressed by the bleakness of actuality and still enjoy the marvel that dances between liquid and solid. Additionally, milkshakes may explain why white people think the 1950s were a golden era. Still, the milkshake persists — we remember the first sip, not the stomachache.
The forum brought up some strong contenders — Cook Out, Whataburger, Chick-Fil-A — and eventually led into a digression about Fuddruckers — Are Fuddruckers and Fudpuckers the same? (They are not and have both filed a number of lawsuits.) Is there a Fuddruckers in Georgia? (There are three.)
Probably interrupting, I threw in a dark horse: “You know, surprisingly, Burger King has pretty good milkshakes.”
So, some time later, when the latest Instagrammable drink hit social media, I felt that this marketing scheme meant something — mostly that we needed to try it.
The internet says that Burger King lists participating locations (the official website’s page just takes you to nutrition facts, which nobody needs to see), but I couldn’t find anything so I called the three closest franchises — disconnected number, a monologue of beeps and finally an answer. Then, two Lucky Charms shakes and a large order of fries, buckled up and secured in a lunch box, enjoyed a two-mile trip through an Atlanta suburb.
You probably know that Paste has a history of dissing Burger King. This is mostly because BK’s track record consists of bad ideas: macaroni nuggets covered in Cheetos; a Whopper-burrito chimera; poor, ill-fitting imitations of other chains’ successes.
Milkshakes induce nostalgia. So does breakfast cereal. And some genius at Yum! Brands, Inc. or General Mills figured out how to combine Saturday morning cartoons and Riverdale vibes into one creamy, novel product. After a marathon of failures, Burger King finally got something right.
I’ll start at the top. I have no idea what brand of whipped cream Burger King uses, but it is good — an ideal grasp of sweetness, perfectly light, that melts into the rest of the shake perfectly.
General Mills says the shake is vanilla, but it straight-up tastes like cereal milk. Once the shake starts melting down a bit, the comparison to cereal milk becomes more evident. Occasionally a piece of chopped-up marshmallow adds a little pop to the dynamic. The shake is nowhere near as sickeningly saccharine as I expected, and it’s not hard to gobble one up.
For all the dippers out there, the shake pairs nicely with fries, although I personally think Burger King’s fries aren’t very good. But you may. It’s your milkshake.
The toasted oats, however, are an obstacle. They’re soggy but still require chewing — it’s an odd texture to bite. Burger King and General Mills have to know that nobody likes the cereal, and in this milkshake, you can’t exactly go ahead and get the bad part over with before proceeding to the marshmallows.
Also, a minor detail, but Lucky Charms always left the lightest blue tint in my childhood milk. If you’re waiting for the color to change here, your ice cream will no longer be ice.
The last time I had a milkshake, it hurt me so much I had a nightmare about it — and pain that follows you into your subconscious has to be an ordeal, right? When you quit drinking milk, a milkshake isn’t always the best idea.
I do not recommend eating this on an empty stomach, especially if you have issues with regulating your blood sugar. Maybe balance it out with a burger, or fries, or chicken nuggets if you’re one of those dippers. Otherwise you might shriek a few times and wiggle your arms around and crash hard 10 minutes later.
It’s always the worst ideas that feel so good.
The sad part is that I’d do it all again, just with an added snack. Because this thing is good.
Sarra Sedghi is the assistant editor of Paste’s food and science sections.