Why Is This Signature Detroit Drink Called a “Boston Cooler”?
Despite having been born and raised in Michigan, I was today years old when I learned what a "Boston Cooler" was. Did you have any idea that this New England-named drink actually originated in Detroit, or that it even existed, for that matter?
History of Vernors
Us Michiganders know the original ginger soda, Vernors Ginger Ale, is a Detroit-made product. Pharmacist James Vernor first served the deliciously ginger concoction to patrons in 1866 and it is known as the "oldest surviving American brand of ginger ale."
That's why it was so exciting when earlier this year Vernors announced it would release its newest flavor in over 50 years, black cherry ginger. The new flavor is exclusive to Michigan and the Toledo-area and only hit store shelves this week. Of course every Michigan resident was eager to get their hands on it and do a taste test, and MLive even commented that the new flavor made an excellent Boston Cooler-- but what even is that?
Boston Cooler Origins
According to the All Recipes website the term "Boston Cooler" originally meant a variety of things ranging from a mix of sarsaparilla and ginger ale to a scoop of ice cream inside half a melon. Over time a "Boston Cooler" came to mean any combination of soda and ice cream. However, because these concoctions were served at local soda fountains and pharmacies, and with Vernors being associated with health and soothing stomach aches at the time, eventually Boston Coolers became practically synonymous with Vernors.
The Sanders Theory
Another theory says that Detroit man Fred Sanders, who owned one of Detroit's first ice cream shops, is credited with first introducing soda and ice cream creations to the Detroit area in the 1800s. Therefore it was only natural that the Detroit-based store use a Detroit-made soda-- Vernors.
Whatever its origin, Vernors eventually did trademark the term "Boston Cooler" in 1967 when it was preparing to launch its Vernors Boston Cooler flavored ice cream bar. Though I'm not sure the ice cream bar ever saw the light of day, the trademark tied Vernors and the Boston Cooler in our hearts and stomachs forever.
Boston Cooler Recipe
To make your own Boston Cooler you only need two ingredients: Vernors and vanilla ice cream. They say the proper ratio of ice cream and ginger ale is 3:1. Once you add the two ingredients blend it up to a milkshake-like consistency. If you simply add the pop to the ice cream it's considered a Vernors Float. As MLive said, I'm sure this new flavor puts a delicious new spin on the traditional Boston Cooler--cheers!