As is the case with most days since November 2016, Twitter was abuzz this morning with something related to President Trump. The Washington Post published passages from an upcoming book written by former Trump aides detailing one of the President’s favorite meals from McDonald's on the campaign trail. The dinner consisted of “two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted.” While many chose to focus on the meal’s nutritional content, a few Twitter uses brought up a better question: Since when does McDonald’s serve chocolate malts?
McDonald’s does indeed serve a chocolate milkshake, but there is no evidence of the chain making chocolate malted milkshakes. If the quote is merely the result of Trump’s conflation of milkshakes and malts, the situation prompts clarification. A chocolate shake and a chocolate malted are not one in the same.
When Trump says “malted,” whether he means it or not, he’s referencing milkshakes that also include malted milk powder. Malted milk powder adds a slightly nutty and sweet flavor to a milkshake, creating a malted milkshake, often simply called a malted, or a malt. Malted milk powder is made by sprouting and drying a grain, typically barley, and mixing it with powdered milk and wheat flour. Sometimes sugar and chocolate flavoring are also added to the powder. While you may not often order a malted milkshake, you may be familiar with the flavor thanks to Whoppers or Ovaltine.
Malted milkshakes gained major popularity during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, also known as the heydey of the soda fountain, so much so that a malt was arguably more popular than a regular chocolate milkshake at times. The is perhaps another reason why Trump, or the book's writers, referred to a McDonald’s shake as a “malted”—he may refer to all milkshakes as such.
According to the McDonald’s website, the chain’s chocolate shakes are made with reduced fat vanilla soft-serve ice cream and “chocolate shake syrup.” Of course, chocolate milkshakes can also be make with chocolate ice cream and milk, or even vanilla ice cream and chocolate milk.