Forgive the lack of writing this summer, but is anyone out there even interested in turning on an oven these days? I know, talking about the weather is one of the most boring things ever, but… let’s just say this recent perfect storm of heat and oppressive humidity has turned most people I know into complete dullards. We haven’t been baking any fun recipes in my neck of the woods, we’ve just been complaining about how our forearms stick to our desks.
Thank goodness, then, that Phil Donahue is here to rescue us from our misery! Remember him? My mom and grandmother were big Donahue fans, and I can absolutely recall them regularly talking about his show after they’d watched the day’s episode. After reading a little about his career, I realize that I was actually acquainted with Phil towards the very end of his talk show (it went off the air in 1996) and he was more controversial than I’d known. For someone my age, few things were more boring than watching this guy with white hair interrupting people for an hour every afternoon, so I didn’t pay much attention.
However, I can easily remember the lone episode of Donahue that actually appealed to me: The One Where They Made Homemade Frostys! In 1993, before the internet was what we know it as today, it was a big deal that there was woman who’d discovered the secret recipes to many restaurant favorites. Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective, came on Donahue to share her top-secret recipes with the audience. And as Phil Donahue informed them:
“She is – and she has a newsletter and she’s not going to sell a book today. She doesn’t even want you to know where she lives. She is – and there – you can’t – there will be no box office number. But she is going to show a number of recipes today and if you want to know what they are, you’ve got to write them down. And for those of you in the audience who are kind of handicapped and didn’t bring a pen-we’ve got to help this audience.”
How do I know, word-for-word, every sentence that Phil Donahue uttered? (even the ones that don’t make sense because he is actually interrupting himself?) Because my mom and grandma were so crazy for this episode that they actually ordered a transcript of it. It includes recipes for the Colonel’s Chicken (“Big Bucket in the Sky Chicken”), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (“Recess Peanut Butter Cups”) and White Castle Burgers (“White Tassle Hamburgers”), among others. Nowadays you could Google this in 30 seconds. But back in 1993, when these secrets weren’t even available in book form, this transcript was a treasure trove of copycat recipes. Instead of “I had to walk twenty miles to school uphill both ways when I was your age,” we can begin using “Back in my day I had to get my recipes by making a phone call, sending a $3 check by mail and then waiting four to six weeks for my TV transcript to arrive!”
[And in a potential bit of family scandal, I notice that the name and address on the transcript belong to my grandma, not my mom. Did she steal it? Was it a gift? Who paid the $3? Did she use cash, credit card, or money order? What is a money order? Why did they take such a precious secret to their graves?]
We will never know the origins of the transcript, but for a short period in my house we were all about these homemade Frostys. In 2016, copycat recipes focus mainly on saving money by making something homemade, or improving the nutritional value and overall “healthiness” of a store-bought item. In 1993, it was just cool to make a Frosty at home, regardless of how cheaply it could be purchased for (and my goodness, forget about health… more than half of the recipes in this booklet include copious amounts of shortening, so no one was saving themselves from heart disease by making them).
I have not done a side-by-side taste test between this and an authentic Frosty, but I encourage any volunteers who want to do so to please report back their results! Maybe milkshakes are just what we need to get through the rest of July.
Wednesday’s Frosty (makes 1 generous drink)*
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup Nestle’s Quik chocolate drink powder
- 3 cups slightly softened vanilla ice cream
Combine ingredients in a blender, using the on/off switch at high speed until smooth with a milkshake consistency. Serve promptly.
(*No one would judge you for consuming the entire thing, but 3 cups of ice cream sounds like a generous portion indeed)