In Search of the Missing Malt

“Malted Milk.” The phrase used to be as common as “Ice Cream Sundae.” Now, you’re lucky if you can find a place that even knows what that is.

Walk into Wendy’s and ask for a malt, and they’ll probably serve you a blank stare. Explain what it is you want, and they’ll say, “Oh, you mean a Frostie.”

No, I most definitely don’t. If I want a filet mignon, don’t offer me a hot dog, just because they’re both meat. Although in the case of the hot dog, that’s questionable.

No, a Frostie is an artificial abomination concocted in the frozen heart of Satan himself, and that goes for every fast food joint that serves something similar, so don’t think I’m picking on Wendy’s.

Some places still offer them – Dairy Queen is one – but I’ll have to be honest: I have not recently had a malt anywhere that I could distinguish from a shake. They must dispense the malt with a salt shaker.


It’s a powdered mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk, which is evaporated until it forms a powder. It comes in two versions, diastatic (used by bakers to create a good crust on dough) which contains enzymes that convert starch into sugar, and non-diastatic malt which is used for flavoring.

Flavoring, do you hear me? That means you use more than a smidgen.

You know how Peter and Walter Bishop, and Olivia Dunham, and Colonel Broyles1 work? Yeah, their weird shit-o-meter starts at 9.5.

With a good malt, you start with at least a tablespoon and work up from there.

To find a good malt nowadays, you have to find a roadside shop that’s run by old-school people, not a major chain. Their shakes and malts will be made with real ice cream, not that Mogg-accursed soft hqiz that probably has more chemicals in it than your average shampoo. No, real ice cream, scooped from a tub; real whole milk, lovely natural flavorings, whole fruit, perhaps some real whipped cream, and real malt. Lots of it. As much as you ask for. And it will be made in something like this,

not extruded into a cup like the ejecta of some spawn of Tophet.

If you’re fortunate enough to find one of these, check the thickness of the final product. If they’re knights of the old code, the spoon (a metal one, please) will stand up straight.

I know where one or two of these are. One is a tiny ice-cream shack in Broadway, Virginia. Another is Mel’s Drive-in on Lombard Street in San Francisco. The others… well, I’m not saying. You’ll enjoy the hunt more if you find one yourself.

But now you know what to look for.

The Old Wolf has spoken, and now he’s drooling.

1If you’re not familiar with Fringe, you’re missing out. More, I cannot say lest I spoil the fun. Go buy the DVD’s and enjoy the ride. This season (V) is the last, but not because it wasn’t popular with its fans.

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