Root Beer Float Popsicles

Root Beer Float Popsicles |

With Fourth of July heading our way next week, my food fancying has turned toward all things Americana.  I love to take pause to consider the roots of some of our better loved dishes and the happenstances that occurred giving birth to them, very often without intent.

Is there anything more summer-classic than the Root Beer float?  It tastes like summer.  I don’t recall my first Root Beer Float however by my childhood overlapped with the popular A & W Root Beer Drive-Ins where one could drive up, and park in a row of cars where a waitress (they were called that then) would walk or roller skate to your car, take your order and return with frosty mugs of root beer and food on a tray that was neatly attached to the driver’s window.  There was nothing like an ice cold mug of root beer on a hot summer’s day.

Root beer float popsicles -

Root beer was developed in the early Colonial times along with Birch Beer, Sarsaparilla, and Ginger Beer from roots and herbs.  Charles Hires cultivated a blend of herbs from a tea he’d had on his honeymoon to sell at his Philadelphia pharmacy, which he combined with soda water and introduced in 1876.  The first bottling of the beverage was in 1893 truly crowning him as the father of Root Beer.  His discovery was quickly both followed and overtaken by the famous A& W brand in 1919, which remains the most popular brand of root beer in the world today. [1]

The history of the Root Beer Float is a bit less clear though most claims point toward Frank J. Wisner in 1893.  I’ve read he owned a soda fountain and one day his ice cream machine broke so he added cold soda as a means to keep the ice cream cool, thus inventing the Root Beer float.

Root beer float popsicles -

A more beguiling tale is that he was a resident in Cripple Creek Colorado during its mining heyday (as were my maternal grandfather’s family), owned a mine and also whipped up interesting soda-based drinks for local citizens of Cripple Creek.  The story goes to say he had a vision one evening viewing the local snow capped peaks in the moonlight which looked like a dollop of vanilla ice cream in a dark drink.  This gave way to the ‘Black Cow’ (or ‘Brown Cow’) drink that was essentially a modern day root beer float which delighted the local children. [2] These tales are all merely heresy but regardless of the true beginning of the famous float it harkens back to the old school soda fountain with a strong foothold in the history of American cuisine.

To celebrate summer and the Root Beer float I made them into popsicles (‘quelle supris’ for those regular readers observing my popsicle-palooza this summer).  Simple with the two key ingredients, vanilla ice cream and Root Beer, these popsicles are a cool, sweet way to enjoy the iconic float in a new form.

Root beer float popsicles -

Root Beer Float Popsicles

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 10-2 1/2 ounce popsicles or 25 ounces of popsicle base

Root beer float popsicles allow enjoyment of the quintessential summer favorite in a new, fun form.


  • 12-14 ounces Root Beer
  • 1 1/4 cup Vanilla Bean ice cream, slightly softened


  1. Pour a small amount of the root beer into each popsicle mold (equivalent of aproximately 3/4 inch in the mold).
  2. Evenly distribute the ice cream between the popsicle molds in spoonfuls.
  3. Pour root beer into molds in small amounts allowing the foam to die back before pouring more to fill molds to the top.
  4. Cover with lid of popsicle molds. Place an sheet of foil on top of the popsicle mold top and insert sticks (the foil keeps the sticks in place so they don't slip into the mold more than desired or float).
  5. Freeze until fully frozen. To remove popsicles run molds until hot water for a few seconds and remove.

Root beer float popsicles -

[1] Inventors: The History of Root Beer, [2] Wikipedia: Ice Cream Soda

More great Popsicle recipes from Boulder Locavore:

Patriotic Smoothie Popsicles

Chai-Coconut Milk Boba {Bubble Tea} Popsicles

Mango Kiwi Limeade Fruit Paletas {Mexican Popsicles}

{ADULT} Summer White Wine Fruit Popsicles

{ADULT} Costa Rican Watermelon Mojito Popsicles


    • says

      That’s so funny about your cravings Katrina! I craved completely different things (beef with my first and tangy-vinegary things with my second); I’ve always wondered what one’s pregnant system is needing to produce such cravings. Pregnant or not these are yummy!

  1. says

    Love the idea of this! Root beer floats (my family always called them black cows – others prefer brown cows) always scream summer to me. I’ve never made popsicles, though – definitely something I need to try! Great idea (and post!) – thanks.

    • says

      You know John I had never heard the Black or Brown Cow term until researching for this post. It seems the true origins of the float or the name will not be known for certain but I think we all agree about these tasting like ‘summer’. I won’t lie: I’ve become a bit obsesses with making popsicles this summer, many of the boozy nature. They are fun, cooling and certainly not just for kids anymore! Thanks much for stopping by!

  2. says

    OMG! I haven’t visited in sooo long and this is such a nice way to come back to Boulder! Root beer and ice cream remind me of A&W root beer floats … a total blast from the past … but these pops are a much easier way to go! Nice to see you again,Toni!

  3. Cindy G. says

    I just bought a popsicle mold about a week ago, so I’m very happy to have come across this recipe. I have 2 small cans of root beer waiting to be used up… I’d rather make a root beer float popsicle than just drink the beverage!


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