Of all the weird food fads to come out of the 21st century, the freakshake has probably been one of the most socially acceptable. Sure, it might have been designed to cater almost exclusively to camera-happy millennials, rather than diners with any shred of dietary common sense, but there’s no denying that a proper freakshake is as impressive to eat as it is to look at. Who can honestly say that they’ve never wanted to dive headfirst into a bucket of chocolate, brownie and whipped cream?
Unfortunately for fans everywhere, there is a growing number of people who seem determined to put a stop to the freakshow by any means necessary. According to the BBC, British campaign group Action Against Sugar are demanding that there be a ban on sales of all shakes with a calorie count of over 300. For an industry that’s grown accustomed to over the top designs, this could be a disaster.
After an extensive survey, examining exactly what’s on offer at fast food restaurants and cafes up and down the country, the group concluded that the market is saturated with what they called “grotesque levels of sugar and calories”. Fingers were pointed squarely at creations like Toby Carvery’s “Unicorn Freakshake”, which tips the scales at a little over 1280 calories, and contains 39 teaspoons of sugar. According to guidelines, this is “more than half the daily recommended amount of calories for an adult and over six times the amount of sugar recommended for seven to 10-year-olds.”
Speaking to the BBC, Action Against Sugar chairman Graham MacGregor made it clear that the group are determined to relegate freakshakes to the dustbin of dodgy food history. "These very high calorie drinks, if consumed on a daily basis, would result in children becoming obese and suffering from tooth decay - that is not acceptable," said the Queen Mary University Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine. He went on to reiterate that, in his opinion, "These high calorie milkshakes need to be reduced immediately below 300kcal per serving."
Right at the top of the group’s agenda is enforcing stricter labelling laws across the UK. They believe that by making “traffic-light colouring” nutrition labels mandatory, they could increase awareness and allow people to get a firmer grip on exactly what they are putting into their bodies. The government are already taking steps in this direction. The BBC also report that “Public Health England (PHE) also has a sugar reduction programme as part of the government's childhood obesity plan” and “is challenging businesses to cut sugar by 20% by 2020”. Milkshakes are apparently included in the plan.
There is something inherently ridiculous about a food that straddles the sugary line between dessert and drink. You don’t need a scientist to make that clear. But, though raising more awareness of the calories at stake is probably a good thing, an outright ban on decadence seems a little excessive. As important as health is, everyone should be allowed to indulge every so often. The moment food stops being fun is the moment that mealtimes stop being worth waiting for.