Sep 14, 2014
Well, no, we’re not talking about the swimming pool or even a pretty river. We’re talking about the
perfect summertime treat you make with simple ingredients at home. Ice cream float or ice cream
soda is made by adding soda or seltzer to ice cream. Some people add flavoring, like chocolate syrup,
or a little milk. However you make it, as soon as the soda hits the ice cream you get fizzy, frothy, tasty
The ice cream soda was invented by Robert McCay Green in Philadelphia, PA, in 1874 during the July
celebration. The traditional story is that Mr. Green ran out of cold ice for the flavored sodas he
was selling on a particularly hot day. Instead he used vanilla ice cream from a neighboring vendor, and
invented a tasty new drink.
His own story is a little different. According to his published account he wanted to create a new treat to
attract customers away from another vendor at the celebration who had a fancier, bigger soda fountain.
After some experimenting, he decided to combine ice cream and soda water. During the celebration,
he sold vanilla ice cream with soda water and a choice of 16 different flavored syrups. The new treat
was a sensation and soon other soda fountains began selling ice cream sodas. Green's will instructed
that "Originator of the Ice Cream Soda" was to be engraved on his tombstone. There are, of course,
other people who claim the invention as their own including one of Mr. Green’s employees.
Regardless of who invented the ice cream soda, the beverage quickly became very popular, mostly
among teens, Going out for an ice cream soda became a popular social event.
Because of the air in ice cream once you add carbonated water or soda it causes a chemical reaction as
the bubbles expand and pop. You are knocking the carbon dioxide in the soda out of solution. Bubbles
of air in the ice cream cause the carbon dioxide bubbles to form and grow. Some ingredients in the ice
cream lower the surface tension of the soda so the gas bubbles can expand, while other ingredients trap
the bubbles in much the same way as small amounts of protein in seawater trap air to form sea foam.
The terms ice cream soda and ice cream float are used interchangeably. In some countries this icy treat
is called a “spider.”
Some ice cream floats have their own names like “black cow”—a mixture of cola and vanilla ice cream.
Or, a “snow white,” 7-up and vanilla ice cream, “butterbeer,” root beer and butterscotch ice cream or
“purple cow,” grape soda and vanilla ice cream.
Other versions use fruit sorbets instead of ice cream and are lighter and more refreshing. We’ve brought
you a variety so you can try your own at home. You can use pareve ice cream when serving these
desserts at the end of a fleishig meal.
Sparkling Citrus Floats
1 cup chilled, fresh orange juice
1 cup chilled pineapple juice
1 cup chilled club soda or seltzer
6 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine orange juice, pineapple juice, and club soda in a pitcher. Stir well to combine. Pour into 3 or 4
glasses. Add scoops of ice cream. Serve with a straw and long-handled spoon. Stir before drinking.
Watermelon Soda Float
1/2 medium watermelon, chilled,
1⁄2 a cantaloupe
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup seltzer
1 pint store-bought vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream
Using a melon baller, scoop out 1 1/2 cups watermelon balls and cantaloupe balls, into a small bowl.
Cover and chill. Cut the rest of the watermelon into small pieces to measure 8 cups. Stir sugar and 1/3
cup water in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set simple syrup aside.
Purée melon pieces only, not balls, in a blender until smooth; strain juice through a fine-mesh sieve into
a large measuring cup or pitcher (you should have about 4 cups juice). Discard solids. Whisk in simple
syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and chill.
Add seltzer to watermelon purée. Divide melon balls among tall glasses. Pour watermelon soda over.
Top with scoops of frozen yogurt. Serve watermelon float with a straw.
The watermelon mixture can be made up to 4 hours before you serve it. Stir before pouring into glasses.
Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream Float
This is a grown up version of the ice cream float. Vanilla vodka ramps up the flavor!
30 ounces Cherry 7-Up
Walder’s vanilla Vodka
1 quart vanilla ice cream
8 ounces whipped cream
Mix Cherry 7-up with as much vodka as you like. Divide among 6 tall glasses. Add 2-3 scoops of ice
cream. Pipe whipped cream over float and top with a maraschino cherry. Serve immediately.