Milkshake 1

We know you're missing those Farm Show milkshakes. Here's how to satisfy the craving at home. 

Right about now, in a pre-pandemic January, you might be gassing up the car for a road trip to Harrisburg, home to the Pennsylvania Farm Show. You might be dreaming of the milkshake (or three) you happily stand in line for every January, or the baked potato you’ll have as a chaser. You might be flipping through the photos on your phone of last year’s butter sculpture (three PA team mascots, including Philadelphia Flyers’ Gritty) and searching for those sensible shoes to trek that massive complex.

Alas, those shoes aren’t going anywhere, thanks to COVID-19. Known as the largest indoor farm show in the country, this year — its 105th — the beloved weeklong extravaganza is virtual via the Pennsylvania Cable Network and the Farm Show’s Facebook page. (View the full schedule of events at But, snacks are a hard thing to enjoy virtually.

The idea of a snack-free Farm Show feels terribly wrong, so we got to work re-creating a few favorites to soften the blow. First up: Milkshakes, but of course. Then on Wednesday, we play with potatoes two ways.

We know where you’d rather be this week, but maybe a few slurps of a homespun shake will take you for a ride.


Adapted from the PA Dairymen’s Association.

Makes 16 ounces.

The amounts below are approximate and based on a 16-ounce serving. Please note that because ice cream scoops come in several sizes, we offer total suggested amount for ice cream.


  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Optional but nice: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Make it a Brown Cow: 2 to 4 tablespoons chocolate syrup or sauce
  • Make it a coffee shake: Substitute 1/4 cup of the milk with cold brewed coffee


Place the ice cream in a stand blender or milkshake maker. Add the milk until the ice cream is barely covered. (You can always add more.) Add the vanilla and chocolate, if using. Blend until smooth, checking for thickness and flavor. Add more milk as needed. Serve immediately.

Milkshake 2

Ice cream and milk are all you need for a great milkshake, but a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a little chocolate syrup can take it to the next level. 

Tips from a dairy farmer

In an email to LNP | LancasterOnline, Stacey Copenhaver of Talview Dairy Farm in Lebanon shared her family’s tips for the frosty, thick shakes of your dreams. Talview Dairy Farm is a member of the PA Dairymen’s Association, and the Copenhaver family recently appeared in a PSA on behalf of the Dairymen.

— Cold milk and ice cream are essential, but no ice, please.

— Ratio is key: “To ensure a thick shake,” Copenhaver says, “it is important to use more ice cream than milk. My family likes three parts ice cream to one part milk.”

— No fancy equipment necessary: Copenhaver uses a Vitamix at home but says any stand blender will do. (An immersion blender with blending cup might work as well.)

A dairy-free Plan B

For the 36% of American adults* who are lactose intolerant and cannot digest cow’s milk and other dairy products, the milkshake — at least in the traditional sense — has been off-limits. Not anymore. The nondairy options for milk and ice cream are both plentiful and of exceptional quality (and make a really good shake).

While recipe testing, I assumed that a coconut milkshake would be a creamy shoo-in and lead the pack, but frankly, it was just too coconutty. It was eclipsed by the oat milkshake, frothy and rich, and a remarkable nondairy stand-in.

Sweden-based Oatly, which is gaining ground in North America (including plans for a research and development campus in Philadelphia), has an extensive oat-centric product line, including ice cream. Locally, Natural by Nature, an organic dairy label founded in Lancaster County in the 1990s, rolled out a line of oat products last year, including milk and coffee creamer.

Keep in mind that nondairy ice cream needs more time to soften and the shake may require slightly more milk to blend than its dairy counterpart.


A milkshake event

If you’re hankering for a close replica of a Farm Show shake, the PA Dairymen’s Association is hosting a pop-up event today, Jan. 10, at a Karns Foods grocery store in Carlisle. The shakes will feature its limited-edition vanilla and chocolate “Cowabunga” ice cream.

“Cowabunga” pints are available for purchase ($4.99) at Karns locations throughout central Pennsylvania and at two Stauffers of Kissel Hill stores in Lancaster County. Proceeds from milkshake and ice creams sales support the association’s sundry agricultural, farming, education, hunger prevention and scholarship programs.

Event details: 1706 Spring Road, Carlisle, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shakes are $5.

For more information:

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