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Shaking up Grinnell’s milkshake scene

Michael Cummings, Community Editor & Emma Friedlander, Arts Editor &

Maybe milkshakes were originally meant to keep us cool in the sweltering summer months, but with modern amenities like indoor heating and synthetic fleece underwear, these frozen treats are now a year-round option. Still, when Dari Barn closes down from October to March, Grinnell students must look elsewhere to satisfy their milk-and-ice-cream fix. Sure, you could ask the Grill workers to mix something up for you, or even attempt your own soft-serve concoction in a D-Hall glass. But when these options won’t do the trick, many places in the Grinnell community are ready to deliver. This week, S&B staffers Michael Cummings and Emma Friedlander sampled three milkshake spots in town to decide where they could best satisfy their frozen dairy needs.




This Grinnell community is under-utilized by students, but offers a cozy atmosphere and retro diner fare. In all of my milkshake crawl samplings, I decided to stick to a traditional flavor that would allow easily comparison among establishments. Vanilla milkshakes remind me a little too much of Pediasure, so I went with chocolate.

Montgomery’s milkshakes have no frills. There was no whipped cream or cherry on top, and the drink was served in a typical retro glass with the extra milkshake included in the metal mixing cup. I appreciated the straightforwardness: it suggested the concoction of chocolate ice cream and milk could stand for itself.

This milkshake was super flavorful. It had a rich chocolate taste, which was cooled down by the perfect consistency of ice cream: neither too lumpy nor too runny. Both spoon and straw were valid tools for consumption, allowing for a versatile drinking experience.


The menu at Montgomery’s features all of the classic milkshake flavors—chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, etc, etc. But one flavor in particular caught my eye, harkening back to a much-loved taste of my childhood—butterscotch. I ordered and eagerly awaited this blast from my past.

While I waited I soaked in Montgomery’s quaint atmosphere, seemingly a call back to a simpler time. Yes, the nearby Subway and Jimmy John’s may brag similar menus with a more modern look, but Montgomery’s has a kind of small town charm that is all its own.

The milkshake itself was amazing. The texture was exactly the way I would have wanted had I been making it for myself—thick and creamy, but not so thick that I had difficulty sucking the butterscotch-y goodness through my straw. In terms of flavor, I would have been happier with a little more of a punch, but that’s just personal preference. It was a classic butterscotch shake, nothing more, nothing less.

Candyland Station


Another traditional Grinnell institution that isn’t heavily frequented by students, Candyland is clearly adorable. A renovated 1930s gas station, Candyland’s exterior advertises it as a retro soda fountain and promises an authentic milkshake-drinking experience straight out of “Happy Days.”

In terms of presentation, Candyland’s chocolate milkshake hardly varied from Montgomery’s. It was also served without whipped topping or maraschino cherries, and came in a glass and additional metal mixing cup. However, the taste and consistency of Candyland’s shake differed from Montgomery’s pretty drastically. The chocolate taste wasn’t as discernable, and the shake was fairly runny, more milk than ice cream. This was definitely a straw-endeavor; if I’d eaten this milkshake with a spoon I would have definitely exited Candyland Station with most of the beverage running down my sweater. Still, Candyland offers a fine milkshake. It was a refreshing drink that was only added to by its cute retro ambience. Although one should perhaps go to Montgomery’s for the milkshake itself, Candyland Station is a better option for an authentic milkshake experience.


Everything about Candyland Station screams “cute.” From the retro-themed sign out front to the cozy 1950s soda fountain feel inside, Candyland Station has an inviting and warm feel. When we entered, we were greeted and asked to have a seat. The restaurant was packed when we first arrived, so it took a while for one of the two women working there to take our orders.

I picked a milkshake flavor that I had never heard of before, but which sounded incredibly enticing—amaretto cherry. One of my favorite flavors of fudge is always amaretto chocolate swirl, so I had high hopes for this shake.

When the shake arrived, there was one immediate, stark difference between it and the one I had just eaten at Montgomery’s—the texture. This milkshake was runny, and it was obvious that it had been made with a lot more milk. In my opinion this took a lot away from the milkshake. Flavor also took a hit as a result of the higher milk-to-ice cream ratio. The shake had a decent cherry flavor and chopped maraschino cherries added to the experience, but I could discern none of the classic almond-y tones of amaretto. Nonetheless, if I thought of it as just a cherry milkshake, it was decent.

Kum & Go


Still, there are those times when you just need a quick and convenient milkshake. This usually occurs at 2 a.m. on a Friday. In these cases, a stop at Kum & Go for one of their classic f’reals can do the trick. Unfortunately, the Grinnell location didn’t have chocolate f’reals in stock when we dropped in last Tuesday. I opted for what I thought was the closest flavor: cookies n’ cream. The f’real machine is pretty exciting. It lets you select your milkshake thickness, ranging from “less thick” to “regular thickness” to “more thick,” and sucks up the frozen cup to be warped into milky goodness that epitomizes the advent of modern technology.

The Kum & Go milkshake was definitely the worst of the three. The cookies and cream parts were blended to the point that it really was just a chocolate shake (disappointing, since I was anticipating some cookie chunks). It also tasted as if Paula Deen had made a secret visit to the f’real factory and smothered each frozen concoction with gallons of butter. I didn’t realize milkshakes could be so buttery.

Still, I’m not about to complain about Kum & Go’s f’real quality. When you stumble into a gas station for a milkshake, your expectations should be reasonable. And for a gas station milkshake, the f’real is easy and satisfying. Moreover, there’s a buy-one-get-one-for-two-dollars deal, which allows for fun milkshake trips between friends or, let’s be real, by yourself.


I wasn’t sure quite what I should expect when I was told that Kum & Go has milkshakes. Certainly nothing like my experiences at Montgomery’s and Candyland. Kum & Go is all about efficiency and convenience, and that’s just the experience I had with their f’reals.

Kum & Go had some less traditional choices than the previous two locations, and after some deliberation, I settled on Cinnabon. I took great pleasure in “making” the milkshake myself, by placing it in the machine and choosing my thickness—I chose “regular.”

The flavor was strong and sugary, exactly what today’s average on-the-go American wants. I don’t know how the f’real creators managed to make ice cream so closely resemble the taste of cinnamon rolls, but I found the cinnamon flavor quite appealing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same about the texture. The f’real was thicker than Montgomery’s milkshake and was full of even thicker clumps, making the experience of drinking it kind of uncomfortable.

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