As any Bostonian who’s ever tried to order a chocolate frappe outside of New England will attest, most of the country does not call a mixture of milk, ice cream, and flavor syrup a frappe. Rather, they refer to such a concoction as a milkshake, a term that, in our fair state, refers to milk and syrup, sans ice cream. In other words, Kelis is not singing about what we know as a milkshake. Well, actually, she’s probably not singing about the rest of the country’s definition either. Hmm.
There are plenty of Boston terms and concepts that differ from those used by our fellow countrymen (just try telling a Midwesterner that they need to go straight through the rotary to get to the spa so they can buy a Hoodsie cup), but frappe seems to be one of the stranger ones. Why is a frappe a frappe and not a milkshake? Wikipedia provides one clue: apparently, the United Kingdom uses the words “frappe” and “milkshake” in the same fashion as do Bostonians. While it seems unlikely that this usage has simply carried over from colonial days (the first reference to a frappe/milkshake dates to 1885), perhaps a clue may be found in the facts that Boston has a giant Irish-American population and that Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom until the early 20th century.
But wait! The plot (just like a good frappe) thickens! It turns out that one of the most popular Greek beverages is a cold coffee topped with foam, which is referred to as a frappé! What to make of this? The Greek drink was not invented until 1957 and it certainly seems that New Englanders were ordering frappes at their local ice cream shops long beforehand. The great frappe mystery may never be solved, but one thing remains certain: a frappe is a damn fine beverage.
[Photo: Off The Broiler]