Hot Where You Are? Try a Boston Cooler

Avid fans of my first book, the 1993 oral history, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 YearsBoston cooler, may recall that the centenarian Delany Sisters’ favorite beverage treat was something called a “Boston cooler.”

What is a Boston Cooler, you ask?

It’s an ice cream soda similar to a root-beer float, except it’s made with ginger ale and vanilla ice cream.

Boston Coolers were all the rage in the Victorian era when the Delany Sisters were young, and they still prepared the refreshing treat when they were both past 100 years of age when I met them in 1991. In fact, whenever we had something to celebrate – a birthday, the publication of our book, the day the book became a New York Times bestseller – the sisters and I would have a slice of Sadie’s pound cake (which she made each week, in case company
stopped by), accompanied by Boston coolers prepared by Bessie.

It takes only minutes to make a Boston Cooler – just fill a tall glass two-thirds of the way with ginger ale and add a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can eat it with a spoon, or wait until the ice cream dissolves and use a straw.

I associate Boston Coolers so closely with ladies of the Delany Sisters’ era that when Mrs. Bailey White, one of the characters in my new novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, serves a beverage to the other characters, I chose – what else? – Boston Coolers.

I know the Delany Sisters would have approved!

Had you ever heard of a Boston Cooler? Do you have a similar ice cream and soft drink treat that you like to make, or that you enjoyed as a child?

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