An ice cream soda is a dessert consisting of at least one scoop of ice cream mixed with a flavored carbonated beverage. Some recipes also call for a mixture of ice cream, flavored syrup, and seltzer water. These types of ice cream desserts have their origins in the drugstore soda foundations that were popular during the 19th and 20th centuries. The first documented ice cream soda was invented in 1874 when a soda fountain owner named Robert Green came up with the idea to draw more customers to his soda fountain rather than to a competitor's. The resulting ice cream treat was so popular that he turned a much higher profit than he did selling cold sodas alone.
Several variations of ice cream sodas are served as desserts in restaurants and can also be made at home. A classic recipe for a chocolate ice cream soda involves mixing chocolate syrup in a tall glass with vanilla ice cream. A small amount of milk can also be mixed in for a slightly richer texture. The glass is then filled the rest of the way with unflavored carbonated soda water before being topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Other recipe versions call for cola or root beer to be added in place of soda water.
Other popular versions of the ice cream soda are often called "black cows" or "brown cows." A black cow traditionally consists of vanilla ice cream mixed with cola while a brown cow is made by mixing root beer with the same ice cream flavor. Whipped cream and syrup flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, or even coffee can also be added according to personal preference. These names can sometimes be used interchangeably depending on the local terminology of different regions, and some areas can also have their own unique favorite ice cream soda flavors.
Additional well-known ice cream soda flavors include the purple cow, the Snow White, and the Brazilian vaca dourada. A purple cow is made from ice cream and sweet grape soda. A Snow White consists of vanilla ice cream mixed with lemon-lime soda and is a favorite dessert drink in some Asian restaurants. The vaca dourada is made with vanilla ice cream and soda flavored from the guarana fruit, which is a favorite ingredient in several Brazilian soft drinks.