The ‘ice cream soda’, as it is known in the US, was believed to have been conjured up by Robert McCay Green in Philadelphia, in 1874.
According to the story, Green ran out of the flavoured sodas he was selling, so decided to mix conventional soda with some ice cream borrowed from a neighbour. And, viola, a new concoction was born.
Given that it is equally appealing to children as it is to adults, its little surprise that the popularity of the coke float has soared as a dessert option in a number of family-friendly restaurant chains.
McDonald’s is the obvious starting point, with its Coke McFloat – Coca-Cola topped with soft serve vanilla and chocolate syrup.
Ed’s Easy Diner, meanwhile, has three different ‘float’ options – coke or cherry coke for £3.30, or root beer for £3.50.
Pubs are beginning to sit up and take notice. The Olive Branch, in Clipsham, Rutland, has a coke float on its kids’ menu for £2.95.
The Fontmell, in Fontmell Magma, Dorest offers a float made with root beer, ice cream and chocolate sauce.
And Welsh pubco Brains has a coke float on the dessert menus at a number of its pubs. The Culverhouse in Cardiff – Brains’ first dedicated carvery pub – has one available for £2.50.
The versatility of the coke-ice cream combination also means any number of alcoholic drinks can be added, turning the dessert into a cocktail.
New Nottingham bar Das Kino, which draws inspiration from 1930s Berlin, claims its coke float cocktail – the Sassafras – has quickly become a house favourite. Costing £6.50, it comprises amaretto, fresh cherries, dandelion & burdock and vanilla ice-cream.
A liqueur is included in the coke float at the Hillhead Book club, in Glasgow, as well. Customers can get the cocktail – a combination of vanilla vodka, orange liqueur, coke and vanilla ice-cream – for £6.