In Search of the Perfect Root Beer Float

By Cat and Henry Miller

We have discovered that the best root beer float our money can buy consists of two specific ingredients, available at an organic foods store near you.

Alden’s Organic Vanilla Ice Cream uses organic ingredients grown without pesticides. Their “milk comes from healthy cows raised without hormones or antibiotics” and they “never use genetically modified ingredients.” Have you heard Papa John’s motto, “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza?” Alden’s motto adds to this philosophy: “All of this takes time, but it is the right thing to do.”  Alden’s Ice Cream averages $5 on sale and $6 regular price for 1.5 quarts, or a half gallon.  Breyers also boasts all-natural ingredients, but there is no assurance that it adheres to the same principles as Alden’s unless you buy from their organic line.  Publix ice cream is a common choice for Tallahassee consumers, as it goes on sale for $2.50-$3/half gallon every few weeks.  As consumers who have bought each of these brands over the past several years, we attest that Alden’s has the superior vanilla ice cream.  It costs more, but every bite is worth it.

We became acquainted with Virgil’s Root Beer only a few months ago, but we quickly fell head over heels for its delightfully natural flavor. Compared to Barq’s and IBC, this microbrewed root beer achieves a higher standard of quality. It lacks the syrupy aftertaste of Barq’s, and imparts an uncommon spiciness not represented in the ordinary IBC brew. Virgil’s Root Beer is available locally at New Leaf Market and Earth Fare (both on Appalachee Parkway). This week, Virgil’s Root Beer is on sale at Earth Fare for $4 for a pack of 4. Regularly, it runs $5-6 for a pack of 4.

We’re sold on the taste of organic food, but the perennial question is, “Is it cost effective?” What do you get for your money? Let’s look at some numbers.

We usually split one bottle of Virgil’s with two scoops each of Alden’s vanilla. This normally gives us four desserts, perhaps with some ice cream left over (depending on how decadent we are feeling). So for $9-$12, we get eight tasty servings of gourmet root beer and ice cream. $9 divided by eight is $1.13. $12 divided by eight is $1.50.

To us, $1.50 is a very fair price for a satisfying dessert. Sure, you’ll pay less if you get soft serve ice cream from McDonald’s, but we find that knowing what’s in our food and where it came from is worth the extra quarters.


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