These Are America's Favorite Chain-Restaurant Milkshakes

Milkshakes have long been an American treat. According to The Dairy Alliance, the origins of the milkshake can be traced back to a boozy predecessor in 1885 made from cream, eggs, and whiskey. It wasn't until 1922 when a Walgreens employee Ivar "Pop" Coulson added vanilla ice cream to malted milk that the modern milkshake became the frosty treat that would soon become staples of malt shops, diners, and ice cream parlors. It could be a simple vanilla milkshake for only a buck or a $100 milkshake made with edible gold and clotted cream from New York City's Serendipity3 (via Guinness World Records). Nothing beats a frothy, cold, creamy shake no matter what the weather.

Although making a milkshake is pretty basic and requires nothing more than milk, ice cream, and whatever flavorings you'd like, chain restaurants, from Friendly's to Dairy Queen, have done their best to cash in on America's love for ice cream-based drinks. But just who are the leaders in ice cream confections, and do they deserve the praise they get?

Steak 'n' Shake is the top shake seller

According to Restaurant Business Online, the top three names in the milkshake-based market are Five Guys, Shake Shack, and coming in at number one, Steak 'n' Shake. With an impressive line-up of flavors, ranging from the classic trio of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry to the exotic flavors of cotton candy and Nutella, it's little wonder the company has managed to earn such a loyal following. But just how exactly does Steak 'n' Shake make their shakes?

In 2013, an employee of Steak 'n' Shake uploaded a video to YouTube detailing how their famous shakes are made. First, ice cream is scooped into a tumbler. Second, syrup — in this case, chocolate syrup — and milk are added to the tumbler. The tumbler is then "hand-spun" or placed on the steel rod of a blending machine which combines the ingredients together. An important part of the process, jokes the uploader, is that the employee must be smiling as he stirs the shake. The smiling part may not be official, but the employee who made it did seem to be enjoying himself.

Even if you don't agree that Steak 'n' Shake has the best shakes, there's no denying the chain is pretty popular. Even Roger Ebert gave it two thumbs-up!