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How can I Make an Ice Cream Soda?

Dana Hinders
Updated May 16, 2024
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Ice cream sodas are a favorite summertime treat that are very easy to make. Also known as ice cream floats, they are made by combining ice cream with soda or carbonated water and flavored syrup. While many people consider root beer and vanilla ice cream to be the classic ingredients, there are many possible variations for you to try. For example, you can make a “Brown Cow” by mixing cola, chocolate syrup, and vanilla ice cream. Make a “Canary Island Special” by combining chocolate ice cream, vanilla syrup, and seltzer.

When making an ice cream soda, don’t be afraid to get creative with your drink concoction. Whipped cream and cherries are very popular add-ons, while coffee lovers often add a hint of instant coffee to their ice cream floats. Chocolate sprinkles may also be a good choice.

Although the recipe for this drink is quite simple, there is a trick to creating the perfect drink. Plain soda foams because it releases carbon dioxide gas, but ice cream is actually a foamy mixture of liquid, ice crystals, and air pockets. Therefore, if you want to make a drink with a lot of foam, put the ice cream in the glass before pouring the soda. If you want to make a treat with a minimal amount of foam, add the ice cream after the soda has been poured.

While ice cream sodas are certainly delicious, they’re not particularly healthy. If you’re worried about excess calories, try using diet soda in your favorite recipe. You can also try making a low-fat drink by combining your favorite flavor of sherbet with sparkling soda water.

As you’re enjoying your beverage, take time to reflect upon the history of your treat. Legend has it that the float was invented in Denver in 1871 by Otto Baur. His frothy concoction became an immediate favorite among children and teens, although many adults failed to see the drink’s appeal. Soon, there were soda fountains and ice cream parlors scattered throughout the United States.

Ice cream sodas are often thought of as a classic American delicacy, but it is interesting to note that this concoction is enjoyed by people throughout the world. In Australia and New Zealand, it is often called a spider. In Japan, children often order a cream soda drink that essentially consists of melon-flavored soda and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dana Hinders
By Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to her work as a freelance writer. After discovering her passion for freelance writing following the birth of her son, Dana has been a vital part of the DelightedCooking team. She also showcases her versatility by creating sales copy and content for e-courses and blogs.
Discussion Comments
By anon255173 — On Mar 16, 2012

Just to recap: Refer to the first post for the reason it's called a spider.

Oh, I've copied it here, too. It's called a spider because when you add the ice cream to a cola. The froth it makes looks like the nest of a spider, like webs. If you leave it for a while, the froth begins to disappear and it really does look like webs.

By anon213414 — On Sep 11, 2011

It's called a spider because when you add the ice cream to a cola the froth it makes looks like the nest of a spider, like webs. If you leave it for a while, the froth begins to disappear and it really does look like webs.

By anon187417 — On Jun 17, 2011

I worked at a soda fountain in La Porte, Indiana, as a teenager. I made hundreds, if not more, sodas. My favorite was the strawberry soda, which we made by spooning frozen strawberries in syrup into the bottom of a soda glass. We would add a small amount of whipped cream to the strawberries and stir this up well. Then we would add the soda water til it was about two-thirds full, and add the scoop(s) of ice cream, topped with more whipped cream and a drizzle of the strawberry syrup. Thanks, Sage's, for many fond ice cream memories.

By anon179074 — On May 23, 2011

I was googling how to make one of these. I am australian so i googled 'how to make a spider' but it came up with ice cream soda and floats, and I took me a second to realize that they were the same. I guess though, it's just like a nickname for the drink. Everything here will have some kind of nickname that might not necessarily relate to the thing it's a nickname for. at places here, it's called a spider even when you buy one from the shops.

By anon70216 — On Mar 12, 2010

Not so wise. An ice cream soda is not the same as a float. To be a soda, it has to have plain soda water, plus ice cream and a flavoring such as chocolate or strawberry syrup. A float is made with ice cream and a flavored soft drink: root beer float, coke float, orange float.

By anon61879 — On Jan 23, 2010

we really need to get to the bottom of this. i have asked hundreds of people with no answer. please social anthropologists help me.

By anon29445 — On Apr 02, 2009

In New Zealand there is also a flavor from various brands called 'Ice Cream Soda'. Incidentally, other than Ice Cream Soda and Soda Water, the word soda is not in common use. Normally carbonated drinks are referred to by their name (such as Coke, L&P, Fanta, etc), or simply as fizz or fizzy - though the last two seem quite rare now compared to the 1970's & 80's.

No idea why we call the float a spider though. It's pure speculation, but maybe the flavored drink preceded the float, so the name was already used here?

By jungle — On Jan 21, 2008

My daughter asked me why a it was called spider when it does not look like a spider? I said maybe because it's kind of fuzzy (fizzy) and some spiders are fuzzy?

By anon1685 — On Jun 11, 2007

Why was the term 'spider' given to icecream floats in Australia and New Zealand?

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to...
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