Awful Awfuls: A History

It looks like winter is coming in the Northeast (if you are a GoT fan, you will get the reference). So it makes no sense to be thinking about the cold, frosty milkshakes I loved as a kid. But I am. For a little trip down my memory lane, here is a (slightly edited) post from my old blog “The Awful Awful Food History Blog.” It’s where that weird name came from. Also, sorry I have been away for awhile. Health issues disrupted my routine, but I’m settling into the colder months and looking forward to sharing more fun food facts and food history.

(New) Food date:  2017.316

I don’t remember the first time I had an Awful Awful milkshake. It feels like it was a regular event in childhood visiting York’s Dairy Bar in Houlton ME, where my mother grew up, much like eating Christmas cookies or bean hole beans. My mother’s favorite Awful Awful was coffee, but I loved vanilla. When I peered into the big cup, it was white and creamy as one would expect but try grabbing the straw. It took superwoman strength to move it, especially for a kid. I sometimes worried that the straw would break but it never did. I wondered at the amazing resiliency of the straw. Okay, I didn’t have the word resiliency in my vocabulary as a young child but I was amazed at how I managed not to break the thing. That was part of the fun—struggling with swirling the straw, sucking up the creamy goodness, wondering if you might pass out from the effort but having complete faith, that the wait (and possible light-headedness) was all worth it.

It did not occur to me where Awful Awfuls came from, or how disturbing its name until many years later. Why have a horrible name for something so heavenly? The story about an Awful Awful milkshake has a little more drama than you think an ice cream drink would have.

In 1948 Bond’s Ice Cream of New Jersey trademarked the “Awful Awful.” Newport Creamery, originally in Rhode Island, had an agreement with Bond’s to also sell the Awful Awful and later bought the trademark when Bond’s went bankrupt. Simple story, right? Not if you ask Friendly’s. Apparently Friendly’s also had a relationship with Bond’s that they could sell the Awful Awful in Massachusetts. It wasn’t until Friendly’s started to expand into NJ (Bond’s territory), that they had to change the name. Most of us know the Friendly’s Fribble.

Now let me be clear—the Fribble is not an Awful Awful, at least not the Fribble’s current recipe. The Fribble by the way was named by a contestant. It seemed Friendly’s needed to find a name and trusted their customers to name it. But to me, no offense Friendly’s or their contestant, Awful Awful is a far superior and hilarious choice.

Sadly York’s Dairy Bar in Houlton ME closed several years ago. I have come across one or two other versions in northern Maine. I believe I will need to make a trip to Newport’s Creamery. Can we pick vacation spots based on ice cream?!

Fun Food Fact:

What I most liked about discovering the Awful Awful milkshake’s journey was how it got it’s name. Apparently folks declared the ice cream drink:

“Awful big, awful good”

One thought on “Awful Awfuls: A History

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s