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Caramel Apple Halloween Milk Shake 

Steak n Shake, 4640 Chippewa; 314-752-2100.

If we were heretofore unfamiliar with Steak n Shake, we'd probably write them off entirely because of that awkward "N," the same way we'd shun Kousin Karl's Kountry Bait n Tackle for our fishing needs. Call us grammar snobs, but we like places we can enunciate with some degree of sophistication and confidence. (Ahem, Nadoz Euro.Bakery+Café.)

But no, Steak n Shake sank their straws into us before we were old enough to care about such things. (In fact, one of Dad Drink of the Week's first jobs as a teenager was a soda jerk there, so perhaps we can chalk it up to genetics.) Similarly, Steak n Shake is one of the few franchises we'll experiment with when it comes to heeding the seasonal commercial gods, and so we confidently order a Frisco Melt, fries and a Carmel Apple Halloween Milk Shake at the drive-through, hopeful the greasy meal will be an antidote to the wholly irresponsible number of shots we did last night.

We're excited that the geniuses who dreamt up the Caramel Apple Halloween Milk Shake in Steak n Shake's research-and-development department has eliminated every problem we associate with caramel apples: That is, we don't particularly like nuts or biting into apples, and the fruits always seem to shimmy down the stick, seemingly in one last go at freedom. And, bless ‘em, they've added ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry.

The sign in front of the Chippewa location reads something like: BOO CARAMEL APPLE MILK SHAKE. Was this a nod to Halloween itself (boo!) or a warning that the drink is not very good (boo)? The drive-through worker even says, "Thanks for ordering the Caramel Apple Halloween Milk Shake!" as though we'd just donated to a sorely under-funded charity. And this suddenly makes us afraid.

But admittedly, not as afraid as telling our best friend we ran into someone in the middle of last night's shot-fest who gushed about the "sleepover" she'd had with our friend's new beau. We aren't sure how to breech the conversation as we drive back home but think that "Boo!" probably isn't the right way to do it. So instead we make small talk with our friend and fruitlessly try to sip our eggnog-colored shake. Both aren't going anywhere. The caramel in the Caramel Apple Halloween Milk Shake has congealed almost to the point of taffy, and it clogs our straw like the already-present lump in our throat does. Worse, the tart taste of apples is nearly absent. Boo.

But both the drink and our heart begin to melt on our drive back home, and everything starts to flow. We tell our friend about the dirt we heard, and to our great surprise she says it's fine. The guy's already ‘fessed up. We're satisfied for now — we guess — but we've still got our doubts. Between their budding relationship and Steak n Shake's Caramel Apple Halloween Milk Shake, we know that least one of them will be around for a limited time only. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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