Growing up, I didn't eat a lot of fast food. I remember going to Hardee's one time when I was about ten and ordering a "plain old hamburger," not realizing that they would make one for me Special. Completely plain. No ketchup or anything. I obviously didn't understand the ordering process. At any rate, my parents didn't let us have fast food frequently. And, while that's a good thing (not to mention alliterative), back then it felt like a Bad Thing. There was one Item that my parents let us have Very Occasionally. And this, friends, was the masterpiece that is (was) The Jamocha Shake at Arby's. A sweet, creamy concoction that tasted vaguely of chocolate and coffee and was Beige. I mean this in a Good Way, beige being the color of Subtle, Understated Urbanity. The Jamocha Shake was, for me, the Pinnacle of Sophistication. After all, it was a grown-up drink. It was a Coffee Beverage. I can still remember how wonderful these guys tasted.
Not overly long ago--maybe about five years or so--The Beloved and I were taking a trip to the mountains of...somewhere. Anyway, we stopped at an Arby's to have lunch, and I was all I'm'a git a Jamocha Shake! I was excited about it (you can tell by that exclamation point), because I was about to revisit the Sophistication of my Youth. When it was ready, I took a big slurp through my straw, and what I got was a mouthful of cold, sweet...chemicals. ?? I took another sip. I could kind of taste the chocolate and coffee, but the aftertaste was very chemically and Upsetting. I threw the rest away. I was a Very Sad Person.
The bitterness of that moment haunts me To This Day.
I really wanted to believe that a milk shake that tastes of coffee and chocolate was made with some ice cream, some coffee and some chocolate. I mean, is it wrong to want that? But, why use real ice cream when some kind of Faux Ice Cream is cheaper to make? Because Arby's doesn't want to feed us--to offer us nutritious food. It wants to make money. And it's not just Arby's. Look at the ingredients in almost any fast food you can think of, and you will prolly not want to eat it again. Ever. But it's cheap, so there you go. That should be Good Enough for us.
I looked up the current list of ingredients for my once-beloved Jamocha Shake, and this is what I found:
Jamocha Syrup [High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Instant Coffee, Dutch Processed Cocoa, Caramel Color, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acid, Artificial Flavor], Vanilla Shake Mix [Whole Milk, Sugar Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Grade-A Sweet Whey, Cream, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Annatto and Caramel Color]
Just seeing "Jamocha Syrup" and "Vanilla Shake Mix," I might surmise that the syrup contains some water, sugar, coffee and chocolate while the shake mix contains ice cream (cream, milk, salt, sugar, vanilla). But that would be Foolish. I mean, when you have such a thing as Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acid, why wouldn't you put it in a milkshake? For those of you who are interested, take a look at this rather dry but telling report on how They determined that the Aforementioned Ingredient is "safe" to ingest. And then ask yourself why they went to all that expense and trouble. My answer is that the stuff must be dirt cheap to produce.
So, what other yumminess can be found in the Jamocha Shake? I see a bunch of different types of gums and a Very Lot of sugars--corn syrup, sugar syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Twice. Lovely. And look what our friends at Wikipedia have to say about sodium carbonate:
Sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda, soda crystals or soda ash), Na2CO3, is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. It most commonly occurs as a crystalline heptahydrate, which readily effloresces to form a white powder, the monohydrate; and is domestically well known for its everyday use as a water softener. It has a cooling alkaline taste, and can be extracted from the ashes of many plants. It is synthetically produced in large quantities from table salt in a process known as the Solvay process. --Wikipedia.org
Do yourself a favor and make your own Jamocha Shake. All you need is some ice cream, a little milk, some coffee, some chocolate syrup, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar (maybe), and a pinch of salt. And a blender. Don't worry if you are Unable to Obtain the polyglycerol esters of fatty acid, the various gums or the caramel color. I guarantee that your shake will be better than a dumb old Arby's shake.
To paraphrase the great Ricky Bobby, "Dear Sweet Baby Jesus in the Manger." It seems that nothing is sacred.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVJSEEOybIw&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b] Yes, I posted the edited version. If you would like to watch the admittedly hilarious unedited version, you can watch that here.