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Mother Nature and Massachusetts milkshakes

June 21, 2013

We’ve been without Internet the past several days. A quick summer thunderstorm sent a huge tree limb down across our driveway and took our power and cable lines with it. Luckily, power was back after just a few hours. Internet took a little longer. Mother Nature showed us who’s boss, I guess.

We were able to make a little party out of our powerless night. While we were waiting for the power company to show up, we went out to get tacos and milkshakes. Except in Massachusetts, they’re called “frappes” and they’re not really milkshakes at all. I find them to be very milky, not so sweet, and very disappointing every time I order one.

I decided to investigate this distressing frappe phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, there are two ways of spelling this drink, and they have very different meanings. To most, the spelling is frappé, which refers to:

  • A frozen fruit-flavored dessert made with shaved ice, similar to sherbet 
  • An iced coffee beverage made from instant coffee

On the other hand, a frappe — with no accent — is a milkshake in New England. elaborates a bit more, stating that the New England frappe is deliberately blended so that it will be thin, rather than thick. Sigh. Why would anyone deliberately make a milkshake thin? I am making a mental note to always order “double-thick” when available, or avoid these Massachusetts milkshakes altogether.

I suppose I should stop ranting and just embrace the uniqueness that is Boston. In addition to their own word (and recipe) for milkshakes, distinct from the entire rest of the country, Bostonians have many, many well-documented idiosyncrasies. I came across this comprehensive Wicked Good Guide to Boston English by BU’s Adam Gaffin. If you’re ever going to visit or relocate to Boston, I’d recommend studying up. In addition to pronunciation differences, there’s an entire (very amusing) section on vocabulary. My favorite line from the guide: “Ah final ahs just disappeah, but wheah they go we’ve no idear.”

[Image via here]

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