Milkshakes and malts (which are just shakes with malted milk powder added) have been around since the early 20th century, and started getting really popular in the 1950s. These blended combinations of (usually) milk, ice cream, various syrups or other flavorings, and add-ins like chopped up candies or crumbled cookies, are some of the most delicious things on fast food menus — part drink, part dessert.
They are also some of the most fearsomely caloric. Sometimes a single shake can match or exceed the total calorie count of an entire lunch or dinner, especially at a fast food restaurant. These are the fast food items with the most calories.
Of course, the number of calories each of us consumes when we sit down to eat varies widely. It is generally accepted, however, that to maintain current weight, an average adult male needs about 2,500 calories a day, and an average adult female about 2,000.
It has been estimated that the average American — one who is neither dieting nor splurging —
typically consumes 300 to 400 calories for breakfast and 500 to 700 calories each for lunch and dinner, plus about 200 for snacks. The balance would be made up with beverages. (A couple of glasses of red wine would add 250 calories, a fancy Starbucks Grande Frappuccino 500 to 600.)
Because Americans in general are more likely to overeat than undereat, 24/7 Tempo took the top number for lunch or dinner, 700 calories, and looked for chain restaurant milkshakes that exceeded that total. There were plenty.
Of course, chains aren’t the only places serving milkshakes, and many of the best ones — likely equally caloric — are found at independent diners, ice cream shops, and other outlets. These are the best places to get a shake in every state.
Surprisingly the milkshakes at some of the best-known fast-food operations actually fell below the 700 number, if not by much. McDonald’s shakes range from 490 to 530 calories. California-based cult favorite In-N-Out Burger serves just three flavors of shake — chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla — in a single size. Vanilla is 580 calories, the other two 590.
The shakes at Five Guys (vanilla only) come to 590 calories — though various extras (bacon, bananas, cherries, chocolate, coffee, malted milk, Oreo cookie pieces, peanut butter, salted caramel, or strawberries) add between 5 and 90 calories each. Chick-fil-A’s shakes don’t exceed 610 calories.
On the other hand, we found some shakes — at Baskin-Robbins and Sonic Drive-In, among other places — whose calorie counts not only exceed the standard for a single meal but approached the recommended intake for an entire day.
Calorie counts were taken from the nutritional information offered on the official websites of all the chains covered, with the exception of Baskin-Robbins, which doesn’t offer such data on its site. Calorie counts for that chain were drawn from the website of Nutrition Charts.