It's getting to be that time of the year in Houston when all I care to consume is chilled liquids. This craving, combined with my general predilection for sweets, makes milkshakes enormously appealing. Thus far I have told myself that full-fat milkshakes are an essential part of a weekly diet given their fulfillment of my daily calcium and Vitamin D requirements, but this little self-charade is getting old, so I have decided to seek out some (sort of) healthier options.
Hence, I recently wandered into Coldstone Creamery to sample a "sinless shake" made from the "sinless sans fat" Coldstone ice cream. Flavor options are supposed to include Oh Fudge!, Cake n Shake, Sweet Cream, Vanilla, and Milk and Cookies, though at this particular location only Sweet Cream was available. I ordered a small (16 ounces) and peered eagerly over the counter to observe its preparation.
The first clue that this was not going to be the shake of my dreams came when the clerk filled the blender a quarter way full neither with ice cream nor milk but rather a strange, clear liquid, which I would have assumed was water if not for the fact that it came in a small refrigerated squirt bottle.
Then came several misshapen scoops of sinless sweet cream ice cream, followed by some electric blending, and then more squirts of the mysterious clear liquid. Ten minutes later, the frazzled clerk poured the colorless concoction into an equally bland Styrofoam cup.
I have always been wary of Coldstone shakes (both regular and sinless), which I expected to be just a step above from the partially gelatinated dairy beverages available at McDonald's. The Sinless Shake failed to meet even these expectations, as it was much worse than any frozen beverage I have consumed from McDonald's (and that includes one very suspect Shamrock Shake from a rest stop franchise in rural Pennsylvania).
The watery yet glue-like consistency combined with the syrupy artificial flavors mocked me at every sip as I considered how ridiculous I was for believing a sweet cream milkshake experience could ever be achieved without real sugar or milk. A small Sinless Shake will cost you about $3.60. Tax, existential humiliation, and taste bud discontent not included.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.