To some eyes they are a complete horror, which might please the person who came up with the name.
But to others, the Freakshake, stuffed full of candy, chocolate, cake, M&Ms and just about anything else with an outrageous sugar value, is some idea of heaven. Especially if you are, perhaps, smaller in stature than the glass it is served in.
Toby Carveries in the UK are producing one called The Unicorn that has something approaching 1300 calories. And guess who wants one? Yep, kids who are currently facing an obesity epidemic.
Toby argue that they do not explicitly market to kids, and certainly their literature makes their Freakshakes look a little higher-brow than others, but the reality is this is bollocks.
Any food outlet, especially a chain, knows exactly who is most likely to buy what and what age they are. You don't have to market to a particular group because the very nature of the dish will target specific people.
For instance, if you have an extra large burger on your menu, you know that it will appeal to young men of a certain greedy, macho disposition. And you put it on your menu because you want more of those coming into your restaurant.
And the same with ice creams and shakes. Now, although everyone likes a good shake, perhaps, they will appeal especially to the young, and the younger they are, the wider their eyes when they see something that is dressed up as a unicorn, especially if they are female (unicorns are in with a certain demographic).
So, having debunked Toby's rather lame response, back to the matter in hand and those calling for a ban.
Action on Sugar has launched a campaign about this as part of their Sugar Awareness week.
Now, I have sympathy with them, and their press release is shocking reading, but I am not sure they will achieve what they want by calling for a ban.
There are two problems here.
Firstly they are setting them selves up to be attacked by all those thick heads who shout "Nanny State" every time anyone suggests anything half sensible. And than can fragment and weaken the argument. Though in this case they might get a little more support for the press than usual.
Secondly, I am not sure how a ban could be put into a place, and therefore whether one should be attempted, or will be.
The Good Old Boycott
So, my temptation would be to rally the troupes and go for the good old boycott. I don't mean boycott the restaurants, but the actual Freakshakes. If we simply stop buying them, then restaurants will give up making them.
I am very well aware that this is a big ask simply because there are enough people who always stick their fingers in their ears and shout, "I'm not listening!"
But times are a changing when it comes to obesity, and fewer people are shouting at Jamie Oliver and are now agreeing with him. And other messages are getting through.
If we are to ever really solve the problem of eating too much, more than we need in our mostly sedentary lives (and it is a problem I suffer from in a big way), then although some laws on advertising and listing ingredients may help, it is only when we change our attitudes personally that we will see the greatest gains.
And products like Freakshakes sound like a good place to start!
It has, sort of, worked before, when chocolate bar makers had to row back on super-sized versions of their popular brands. So there is precedent here.
Freakshakes are simply so ridiculous (and tacky, I might add), that they really probably don't belong anywhere. But they are also fun, and we should never take the fun out of food.
By simply not buying them, rather than angrily banning them, we hold out hope that there will be, eventually, a more sensible consensus over the issue of obesity, rather than pithy and not completely truthful words on the matter from the powers-that-be and the retailers/manufacturers.
We need a change of culture, and that will need more imagination than has been so far expressed by anyone in the arena.