Ask AC
Milkshake

Hi!!!

Can you please help me by explaining the meaning of the slang term milkshake? Also ice cream, if you don’t mind. Thanks so much.

Karen M.

Dear Karen,

With two milk related hit songs on the charts now, dairy products are hot, hot, hot! I’m assuming you, like many other readers who sent me mail on the same subject, heard about milkshake in the Kelis song of the same name. Describing her milkshake, she says:

I know you want it...
The thing that makes me
What the guys go crazy for…

In an interview at BET.com, Kelis says that a woman’s milkshake is not (as many people might think) a specific reference to breasts, but is “that thing that makes a woman stand out from everyone else. It's a thing that makes you sensual and warm and maternal.” Ice cream is the same kind of metaphor, and is also used in a current pop song. Here are a few lines from Ice Cream, by JS:

Come and get a scoop of my ice cream, baby
JS got the flavors that I know will drive you crazy

It would be hard to miss that this is also a sexual reference (especially as the listener is later asked to picture her body on a cone), but the emphasis is slightly different. Both songs are about sex, but JS uses ice cream to talk primarily about how delicious the singers are whereas Kelis’ milkshake is more about sexual skills and techniques. These are fine distinctions, however. You could probably use them interchangeably in a bar with equally good results.

By the way, this is hardly a new idea. There have been plenty of "sweet" songs about sex over the years, from the the Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar to Warrant's Cherry Pie. Candy alone accounts for dozens of songs every decade, including Sex and Candy (Marcy Playground), Tootsie Roll (69 Boyz) and Juicy Fruit (Mtume).

In fact, Kim and Kandy Johnson (JS stands for "Johnson Sisters") were not even the first to exploit ice cream for its seductive powers. Sarah McLachlan was singing, “your love is better than ice cream" back in 1994. In 1978, around the time the Johnson girls were born, Van Halen released Ice Cream Man (actually written in 1922 by blues musician John Brim), promising, like Snickers and the Barenaked Ladies, that their flavors were “guaranteed to satisfy.” For that matter, in 1955, Little Richard did wonders for Tutti Frutti ice cream with a song about a girl named Daisy who knew how to love him and drove him crazy.

Your pal,

A. C. Kemp

January 1, 2004

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