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Guelph's love affair with the delicious milkshake lives on

We get it. It's full of sugar and carbs. But oh what a special treat in a time when special treats are few and far between
A delicious Park Grocery milkshake.

While it may be true that frozen concoctions are routinely a summer thing, perhaps now is precisely the time we need them.

Hear me out. It’s April, and we’re well past the New Year’s resolutions which had many of us fuelling ourselves with quinoa-only diets and zero carbs. Some have been gluten-freed for months now, even taking a moment to pause on alcohol — all for optimal health, which is good, of course. But isn’t it high time we broke free from the dour season?

Adding in the weight of lockdowns, curious vaccine protocols, and separations from loved ones; these realities have done much to bum us out. Maybe then, we should try to get ourselves back some small moments of joy, even if it comes with the return risk of a few calories. You have to admit, a pinch of glee would go a long way right about now, wouldn’t it? So let’s put an end to those dated seasonal norms and make a case for indulging in a milkshake today.

Consider it survival.

Certainly those first few slurps may feel a bit too cold but your digestive system is genius and can sort it all out. It will make quick work of those the nutrients, break them down and convert them to energy. The resulting heat generated is your system functioning just as it should. Problem solved. Having a milkshake at Easter is a very sensible choice, and science proves it. So does history.

Milkshakes have been around for a very long time. The term first appeared in the late 1880s but generally meant a healthy egg nog type of drink, often with the inclusion of whiskey, which made it much more of a tonic than a treat. Since malted milk was also considered a tonic, the combination of a malted milk shake was purely practical.

By the 1900s people were clamouring for this new goody, now with the happy addition of ice cream, and began referring to them as shakes and malts.

This trend caught on in Guelph, and in the late 1890s, the Yeates and Thomas Confectionary Store on Wyndham Street was a growing concern as an ice-cream parlour. The specially designed shop combined both candy and ice cream manufacturing, and quickly became celebrated by the name, the Kandy Kitchen.

An enchanting place featuring art nouveau design, the Kandy Kitchen had a long run in the downtown core but closed in the early 1930s, with now sole owner Yeates concentrating more on his Royal Dairy business. His affection for offering ice cream to the public never left him, however, so he created a much welcomed Dairy Bar on Paisley Street featuring none other than a heavenly shake. Situated right in front of his Yeates Ice Cream Manufacturing building, it also happened to be conveniently placed right across the street from the Guelph Public Library. 

We don’t have to venture far in present day Guelph to discover some modern milkshakes that recall the heyday of ice cream parlours.

Park Grocery is one such place. The original Park Grocery opened its doors in 1890 when the Waters Family started one of the first General Stores in the area. Nestled right into in the old Exhibition Park neighbourhood, and still located at 294 Woolwich Street, today’s Park Grocery aims to please the community and honour its past as part deli, food market, and bistro.

Steeped in rich history, even their shakes are made with the kind of care that evokes an old-fashioned Guelph taste legacy. 

Undecided about that Easter milkshake? Perhaps science, tradition and lore might just change your mind.