Looking for a unique and delicious milkshake with a New England history? Look no further than the Awful Awful – it’s “awful big and awful good!”
By Bethany Bourgault
Jul 28 2022
Awful Awful | A Classic Recipe, A Modern FavoritePhoto Credit : Bethany Bourgault
For too many years, I lived under the impression that what the rest of the world called a “milkshake” was actually supposed to be called a “Fribble.” My childhood self liked the way the word sounded, and decided that my local Friendly’s had demonstrated enough expertise in all matters of ice cream that everybody else just simply must be wrong. It took a little real-world exposure (i.e., a failed attempt at ordering a “Fribble” elsewhere) for me to realize this wasn’t the case.
Turns out, the “Fribble,” at one time, wasn’t called a “Fribble” either. It went by another name, one more aligned with how I felt about using the boring word “milkshake” than with the actual drink itself.
It was called the “Awful Awful.”
Really, though, the Awful Awful is anything but.
Back in the late 1940s, a popular New Jersey chain by the name of Bond’s concocted the recipe for a unique, delicious, drinkable treat. Unlike other milkshakes that were made with hard ice cream, the Awful Awful was made with ice milk and syrup. A satisfied customer announced that it was “awful big and awful good,” and the name stuck.
Soon after, a successful business deal with two growing eateries — Friendly (at that time, sans “‘s”) and Newport Creamery — spread the Awful Awful throughout New England. There was a catch, though. If either entity took its business into New Jersey, the drink’s name would have to be changed. New Jersey was Bond’s territory, after all. The three chains coexisted peaceably until the 1960s.
Friendly (still sans “‘s”) had grown so much by then that ignoring the entire state of New Jersey just wasn’t practical. Rather than miss out on a whole new market, they chose to forgo the “Awful Awful.” Company executives conducted a naming contest to re-brand the classic treat, and the three people who suggested “Fribble” each won $100. Several years later, Bond’s went bankrupt, allowing Newport Creamery to snatch up the Awful Awful trademark for just $1,000.
The Fribble would eventually undergo several makeovers, straying farther from its original twin and closer to a normal milkshake. In the 1990s, it traded in its ice milk for soft-serve, and more recently, traded in the soft-serve for hard ice cream. After all, a Fribble made with hard ice cream can be made with any of Friendly’s 60+ flavors.
The best news for the old-fashioned Fribble lovers, though, is that the original recipe lives on. All of Newport Creamery’s 12 locations still make Awful Awfuls the way they were meant to be — with ice milk, syrup, and just enough ice cream to make them thick.
Next time you’re in the area, be sure to give this frozen treat a try. You’ll be “awful” glad you did!
Have you ever had an Awful Awful?
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.