I am notoriously an ice cream fiend. I will happily sit in my bed, on any given day, with a tub of Breyer’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, eat myself sick, doze off, and then wake up again to find myself only longing for more. Maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration, and, admittedly, I’ve never spent a day in quite this exact scenario, but in the most idealistic of worlds, where I would never suffer from a lactose-intolerant belly, this could possibly be my ideal day.
That being said, Rocky Mount’s one gem, and I do mean one, is the CookOut milkshake. Now, at heart, I am truly a devotee of ice cream. I’d prefer my bowl of Moose Tracks a la carte, just me, the ice cream, and the spoon. I don’t want a sundae, a parfait, a sorbet, a gelato, and particularly, not a milkshake. Milkshakes disappoint me with the lack of ice cream and overflow of milk, creating a watery mess that simply leaves me unfulfilled. Moreover, as an individual who would rather have a bit of everything and go through life creating a mishmash, be it a meal of pancakes with stir-fry or a horribly strewn together outfit, the redundant choice of chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry makes me, well, bored.
And then CookOut arrived in Rocky Mount. While it looks less than promising with its drive-thru only set-up, CookOut can make a mean milkshake. They have more than forty-six flavors. And this is only the beginning. Forty-six flavors are listed, but the secret is that you can mix as many as you want. Yes, of course you can mix the Oreo with the caramel, and yes of course you can mix the peanut butter with the vanilla. Or you can mix the peanut butter banana with the Oreo and the cheesecake and the fudge. On a recent endeavor, I witnessed the consumption of a banana pudding, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate cheesecake milkshake. And the miracle of it all is that at CookOut, one of each item goes into your shake; and by this I mean, not a cheesecake-flavored syrup, but an entire piece of cheesecake is going to end up in your hefty sixty-four ounce milkshake. So, in the case of this particular shake, I witnessed a scoop of banana pudding, complete with bananas and vanilla wafers, a tablespoon of peanut butter, an ounce of fudge, and a slice of cheesecake, being swirled up with a bit of ice cream. The end result is that the concept of a straw becomes laughable.
I feel like it is an undeniable truth, given the possibilities of mixing 46 flavors with no limit on number of flavors per shake, that you can make a CookOut milkshake to your liking.
Now, perhaps the most unbelievable part of the CookOut milkshake phenomenon is that it did not arrive in Rocky Mount until 2008. I know you’re thinking, “I thought Rocky Mount was in the desolate, backwards, middle of nowhere…so I’m not suprised.” And from this perspective, I’m not surprised either. Here comes the baffling part: Nash County, where Rocky Mount is easily the booming central town, is the fattest county in all of North Carolina. Literally. According to data compiled by the NC Risk Factor Surveillance System, 73 percent of Nash County residents were overweight or obese. In addition, 15 percent of children ages five through eleven and 21 percent of children aged 15 through 18 are overweight or obese. (http://www.co.nash.nc.us/HLT/PDF/obesity.pdf) Now, in a county that has been systematically-proven to be the most overweight and obese county of North Carolina, why would any fast-food chain make any possible detour from this town of fat-loving, meat-craving, milk-shake sucking residents? Especially CookOut, which was founded right here in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1989. Perhaps the bigger surprise is that someone from Rocky Mount didn’t come up with the concept of the Cookout milkshake first.
Regardless, CookOut has come to Rocky Mount and the people are happy. And, undeniably, getting larger.