Also known as a “black cow” or “brown cow”, the root beer float is traditionally made with vanilla ice cream and root beer, but it can also be made with other ice cream flavors. Frank J. Wisner, owner of Colorado’s Cripple Creek Brewing, is credited with creating the first root beer float on August 19, 1893. The similarly flavored soft drink birch beer may also be used instead of root beer.
In the United States and Canada, the chain A&W Restaurants are well known for their root beer floats. The definition of a black cow varies by region. For instance, in some localities, a “root beer float” has strictly vanilla ice cream; a float made with root beer and chocolate ice cream is a “chocolate cow” or a “brown cow”. In some places a “black cow” or a “brown cow” was made with cola instead of root beer. In some areas, for example, Northeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, “black cow” is said to mean a root beer float where a portion of the vanilla ice cream and root beer have been mixed together before filling the glass with scoops of vanilla ice cream and root beer.
In 2008, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group introduced its Float beverage line. This includes A&W Root Beer, A&W Cream Soda and Sunkist flavors which attempt to simulate the taste of their respective ice cream float flavors in a creamy, bottled drink.
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