Reaching Milkshake Zen: One Girl’s Quest


By Rose Kantorczyk, Staff Reporter
Recently, I decided to embark on a journey.  It would be a journey of self-discovery – a search for knowledge, if you will.  I sought the holiest thing one can hold with two hands and sip from a straw: the best milkshake on the Main Line.  This journey would not be without hardship, and would change me in ways I didn’t expect – my mouth became colder, my jeans grew tighter, and I became an expert at getting that paper wrapper off of a plastic straw.  What follows is a record of my journey, so that perhaps you too, dear reader, can follow in my footsteps and attain Milkshake Enlightenment.


576 Lancaster Ave, Berwyn, PA 19312
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The first stop on my milkshake zen journey was Handel’s, due to its convenient location 5 minutes away from school.  This well-known summer (and winter!)-time sweet spot gets full points for flavor variety – you can choose any of the countless, ever-changing varieties of ice cream on their menu for your milkshake.  However, most of the flavors have chunks of actual dessert in them – coconut shavings, brownie bits, cookie dough, chocolate chips. While this is part of what makes Handel’s ice cream so great, it’s not ideal for a milkshake – it can be disarming when, expecting an easily swallowable sip of liquid cream and sugar, a hard chunk of candy shoots up your straw.  I ordered a New York Cheesecake milkshake, thinking this would be a safe, chunk-less bet, but was sadly mistaken; the shake arrived laced with graham cracker crumbs and peppered with pieces of actual cheesecake.  While I enjoyed it, Handel’s didn’t give me the zen I was seeking, so I steeled myself over the last sips of shake and resumed my journey.

Shake Shack

160 N Gulph Rd #233, King of Prussia, PA 19406
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Because “shake” is a part of its name, I was expecting Shake Shack to push me all the way to Milkshake Nirvana, but I instead found myself disappointed and unenlightened.  The flavor variety was lacking, consisting only of a few basic flavors and a Shake of the Week, which that week was Oatmeal Cream Pie. I decided to venture out onto a limb and try this creamy concoction, and ended up underwhelmed.  The flavor of oatmeal cookies (by the way, who actually likes oatmeal cookies?) was present at first, but after a while it just started to taste generally milky and sweet. The shake was so sugary that it burned the back of my throat and made me wish for a glass of water.  My sister, who accompanied me on a few legs of this journey, and who tried the milkshake without knowing what flavor it was, said it tasted like pumpkin spice, which makes me think that Shake Shack needs to check its taste buds before it can take anyone to enlightenment.


320 W Lancaster Ave, Wayne, PA 19087
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My journey reached a new low when I ventured to Minella’s Diner, a favorite late-night haunt of mine, to see if their milkshakes tasted as good in the daylight as they do when you’re punch-drunk-tired and squeezed into a booth with your friends, sharing fries and laughing at something stupid.  Alas, I was again disappointed.  The only flavors available are chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, making me picture a giant tub of mass-produced Neapolitan ice cream melting in a back corner of the kitchen.  I ordered a chocolate milkshake, and it tasted exactly like that image: grocery-store ice cream, too liquidy, and in a glass that was far too big for me to finish in one sitting.  The only redeeming factor was the cup of matzoh ball soup that I got to enjoy alongside this setback of a shake.  


Various locations
Things started looking up for me when I roamed to Wawa, home of the infamous F’Real blend-it-yourself concoction.  Part of the experience of a Wawa milkshake is placing your shake of choice (mint chocolate chip for me) into that slightly ominous machine and watching it whir and grind, praying that nothing spills or breaks.  When your milkshake emerges out the other side, blended to your choice of thickness, it’s difficult not to take a sip before making your way to the register to pay.  There’s something wonderfully fake about a Wawa milkshake – the mint flavor just a little bit too minty, the ice cream slightly too watery, but it’s good in the same way that Kraft Singles and Froot Roll-Ups are.  The chocolate chips in the shake posed the same problem as the cheesecake chunks at Handel’s did – I was annoyed at having to again chew my drink – but as I had a bigger straw this time around it wasn’t that much of a hindrance.  I walked out the convenience store doors feeling freshly minted and hopeful that I would find Milkshake Zen soon.

Wayne Bar

134 North Wayne Avenue, Downstairs, Wayne, PA 19087
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This semi-hidden coffee and ice cream parlor in Downtown Wayne is known for weird and wacky flavors (Avocado, anyone? How about Balsamic Banana?). However, when faced with a blackboard of options and the awkwardness of being the only customer in the tiny shop, I blurted “vanilla” when put on the spot about my flavor preference.  As it turns out, I was glad I did.  The shake was sweet but not overly sweet, with a nice balance of sugariness and milkiness, and classic in an almost indescribable way. It seemed basic at first, but grew on me the more I drank, until there were only a few drops left and I found myself wishing that I had ordered a larger size.  This shake left me feeling pleasantly, contentedly happy.  With a start, I realized: I had found it.  This was my Milkshake Zen.  After a long and arduous journey, I had finally found it.
Achieving Milkshake Zen, while meaningful, is by no means immensely difficult.  With the right focus, mindset, and taste buds, anyone can reach this place of sweet higher enlightenment. I wish you all the best of luck on your own personal quests for Milkshake Zen. Namaste.  
Rose Kantorczyk can be reached at [email protected].