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A Brown Cow, Is A Root Beer Float With Chocolate Ice Cream Instead Of Vanilla


On August 6, National Root Beer Float Day tells us to float a scoop of vanilla ice cream in an ice-cold mug of frothy root beer. The classic beverage creates a creamy treat loved by generations!

  • Also known as the “Black Cow,” the root beer float got its start in Colorado in a mining camp. Frank J. Wisner of Cripple Creek, Colorado, gets the credit for inventing the “Black Cow”  way back in August of 1893.
  • One night Wisner, owner of the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company, was staring out the window and thinking about the line of soda waters he was producing for the citizens of Cripple Creek when he came upon an idea.  The full moon that night shined on the snow-capped Cow Mountain and reminded him of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  He hurried back to his bar and scooped a spoonful of ice cream into the children’s favorite flavor of soda, Myers Avenue Red Root Beer. After trying, he liked it and served it the very next day.
  • Root beer is made out of 16 Roots, and herbs.
  • Colonist were actually the first people to make root beer.
  • The A and W in A&W stands for Alan and Wright.
  • Hires Root beer was introduced by Charles Hires in 1876 Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition.
  • The most original ingredient was Sassafras. It comes in an alcoholic drink also.
  • Root beer accounts for 3 percent of America’s Soft Drink Market.
  • In 1960 a key ingredient (the sassafras root) came to be known as a carcinogen and its use was banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • A brown cow, which is a variation on a root beer float that uses chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, is perfect for chocolate lovers. Depending whom you ask, a brown cow (sometimes called a chocolate cow) can also refer to a root beer float with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup or a float made with cola instead of root beer. Martha Stewart’s brown cow recipe uses vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate sprinkles.
  • A different root beer float origin story attributes the dessert’s invention to Robert Green, a Philadelphian who replaced sweet cream with ice cream in soda water in the 1870s. Philadelphia’s The Franklin Fountain continues that tradition by serving homemade root beer floats, Philly style.
  • You can find hard root beers (containing alcohol) around the country, and these adult floats offer a mature twist on the traditional float. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to Not Your Father’s alcoholic root beer to make your own adult float, or, if you’re into vodka, try the Smirnoff root beer float. Or, visit New York City’s Bell Book & Candle, which serves a mouthwatering root beer float, brewed and fermented on site (alcohol optional), and topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
  • For a denser root beer float experience, try using gelato instead of ice cream. Chicago’s Au Cheval makes root beer floats with Berghoff’s draft root beer and malted vanilla gelato from a local ice cream and gelateria named Zarlengo’s.
  • A Coke Float can be made with Coca-Cola and vanilla ice-cream.
  • A Boston Cooler is made from Vernors ginger ale and vanilla ice cream.
  • An Orange Float is made with vanilla ice cream and any orange soft drink.
  • A reverse root beer float is made with root beer ice cream and vanilla soda. 
  • Root beer is almost exclusively a North American drink.
  • Both Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were fans of small beer, the precursor to root beer. 
  • In 1927 John and Alice Marriott purchased an A&W franchise in Washington, D.C.  The Mariotts named their root beer restaurant The Hot Shoppe.  Their restaurant expanded, and eventually led to the creation of Mariott Hotels. 
  • The first ice-cream soda was sold in 1874. 
  • Hires initially marketed his beverage as “root tea.”


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