Date Shake

A date shake is made by adding finely chopped date crystals or date puree to the blender along with ice cream and milk. Too thick to be sipped, it renders straws useless. It is a luxurious drink, but avoids defiant sinfulness because of its fruit content. In fact, a well-made date shake puts one in mind of long-ago California where sunshine and fresh fruit defined a healthy way of life. Date shakes were created in the 1940s, when Russ Nichol, proprietor of a local fruit stand, devised them as a lure to travelers along old Highway 111. Prior to Mr. Nichol’s efforts, dates were a little-known and little-appreciated local curiosity. Today, date shakes are a signature dish not only of the Coachella Valley but of shake shacks and smoothie bars along the coast in Orange County and beyond. The classic place to gulp one is in the town of Indio, California, at Shield’s Date Gardens. Shields is a roadside attraction that is a blast from the past, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy a kitschy documentary film called “The Romance and Sex Life of a Date.” It explains the life cycle of what the narrator describes as “the least understood of all fruits.”

Restaurants With This Dish

Great Shakes


Overhead view of a thick milk shake crowded with bits of date
Hadley Fruit Orchards | Trail Mix & Date Shakes in California


Shields Date Gardens - Sign
Shields Date Gardens | Date Shakes in Retro California



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