Shaking Things Up in Palm Springs

One of the best things about travel is the opportunity it provides to discover new things. Especially delicious new things. Our trip to Palm Springs over Thanksgiving week included such a discovery: Palm Springs’ iconic date shake. But at the time, I had no idea that date shakes were a thing let alone iconic. And if not for the persistence of my husband, Matt, I probably would not have tasted one, unfairly prejudiced, as I was, against the wrinkly, brown fruit that is a key ingredient.  

It was the Monday before Thanksgiving, and we were headed to dinner, slowly window shopping our way along Palm Springs’ main commercial drag, South Palm Canyon Drive, with our two daughters, my best friend, Maureen, and her daughter. We hadn’t yet chosen a restaurant, when Matt spotted a sign for date shakes in the window of a frozen yogurt shop and decided that he wanted to try one for dessert. “Yuck” was my immediate reaction, which Maureen and I together followed up with jokes about laxatives and constipation.  

After dinner, we returned to the frozen yogurt shop, where Matt again announced his intention to order a date shake and I made my gag me with a spoon face in response. As if on cue, a small mustached man walked up to us and began singing the praises of the date shake to the point where I wondered if Matt had paid him to do so. A regular visitor to Palm Springs who lived in LA, this man had taken down a good number of date shakes in his day and assured us they were delicious. “You’ve got to try one,” he said, and got in line to order his.  

As I later learned, around 90% of the country’s dates are grown in the Coachella Valley, where Palm Springs is located, and date shakes, which were invented here in the 1920’s, can be found all over the region. While flavors and recipes vary, the frozen yogurt place we stumbled upon offered three kinds: vanilla, banana and coconut. Matt ordered vanilla, Maureen went with banana and I had large sips of both, wishing I’d gotten my own. Our friend from LA had not lead us astray and I can honestly say that these were the best shakes of any kind I’ve ever had. They didn’t taste like dates per se, but had a unique caramel flavor and slightly gritty texture to them that I can’t stop thinking about.   

So, let this serve as a reminder (to myself no less than others!) to seek out and keep an open mind to all that’s new and different as we travel through life. And to live by the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover, or, as in this case, a frozen dessert by its name. Because it would be a real shame to miss out on something as good as a date shake, now wouldn’t it?