F'Real Gas Station Milkshake Machine


Serious Eats' Erin Zimmer risked gullet and gut to sample a "F'Real Shake," some sort of gas station make-your-own milk shake machine.

Something like a DIY malt shop from the future, it lets you pick from a mini-freezer of ice cream cups (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or a limited-edition egg nog) and thickness settings (extra, regular or less thick). After dropping my vanilla into the sleek blue machine and choosing extra-thick, the cup levitated to a shake-making heaven. Some bzzt noises later, and it dropped back down to our mortal world.

Creamy and chalky-white, it wasn't much more sophisticated than McDonald's vanilla soft-serve, but very satisfying with all that buttercream and host of scary chemicals. Cellulose gum, maltodextrin, carrageenan and dextrose.

My favorite flavor of ICEE is maltodextrin. (Although I usually stir in a little from the xanthan gum nozzle for viscosity.)

Route 29 Roadtrip Highlight: F'Real Shakes [SeriousEats.com]

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  1. They have these at Wawa, and they’re terrible. You have to put the machine on “Extra Thin” in order for it even to be edible, otherwise it’s like a chocolate brick. Maybe they have the freezers turned too low, but the couple times I’ve had one they weren’t any good anyway.

  2. They have these not just at Wawa, but at some Quick Chek locations as well. I think I was more astounded by the process (and choosing which frozen block of slush-to-be) to notice the taste too much. It was cold and hinted at chocolate, is that not enough?

  3. I tried one of these out at a Holiday station in Walker, MN in July ’06 – but I hadn’t seen another since then! I think I had a strawberry one. It seemed to be on par with a McDonald’s shake – not bad, not amazing. BUT DEFINITELY THE FUTURE…

  4. Thanks for this post, it compelled me to wikisearch guar and locust bean gums. (ingredients I recall seeing on labels of “this ‘so called’ iced cream” from my childhood) At least its just carob and not actually locusts like I thought as a child. I was dumb.

  5. I am so glad you posted on this… in addition to loving all things tech, I happen to really love me some food talk. I also *heart* Erin Zimmer’s writing.

  6. Hey, thanks for the plug, Joel!

    I’m with Certron. It’s not so much the culinary epiphany– my favorite shake still rests with Ted Drewes in St. Louis, hands down– but observing the process of the frozen block of slush-to-be.

  7. I just had 2 flavors in Weare NH at an IRVINGS. I had the Mocha and the Cappuccino. I loved them both. I know there are different thicknesses but I thought that meant if they added more milk to it and then mixed it with the same style mixer as Friendlies uses. I didn’t notice all those chemicals mentioned in the other blog. Also the ingredients is on the cup you’re mixing them in.

  8. I would like to thank WaWa for bringing the freal milkshake into my life….McDonald’s ms’s are crap and no matter if I ordered chocolate or vanilla somehow strawberry always made an appearance.I am doubtful of the authenticity of the McD ms as its consistency becomes more weird as it begins to melt..not like ice cream at all…DQ has a pretty solid shake but way less convenient than the freal deal WaWa has goin on. In fact, a coworker in my office is actively pursuing the Freal people for a machine in our office.

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