Sweet by Any Name

Like any great culinary invention, the American milk shake comes in numerous guises.

Like any great culinary invention, the American milk shake comes in numerous guises.

What the rest of the world knows as a milk shake Rhode Islanders call a cabinet, after the cupboards in soda fountains where blenders and syrups were traditionally stored; coffee cabinets (made with the state's signature coffee syrup) are the preference among locals.

The St. Louis specialty known as a concrete is an ultrathick take on the shake that combines dense frozen custard with crushed candy, cookies, nuts, or fruit.

In Boston and parts of New England, a shake is sometimes called a frappe (pronounced FRAP); the name derives from the French word frappe, meaning whipped.

The smoothie (a term that first appeared in a series of 1940s cookbooks that accompanied Waring blenders) is a healthful twist on the shake, made from fruit and milk or frozen yogurt, that became wildly popular in California in the 1960s.

Batidos, shakes made with fresh fruit (such as pineapple and passion fruit), ice, and milk, hail from the Caribbean and Central America and are increasingly common in the United States.