Ask baby boomers if they remember having Awful Awfuls. And those of us who do will say they were great!

These were the "awful big, awful good" original milkshakes that Friendly ice cream shops offered in the 1950s and 1960s. The Awful Awful was limited to chocolate, vanilla or strawberry flavors back then.

The drink was a very thick concoction, barely drinkable with a straw, and served in a large plastic glass with the name on the side. The secret ingredient was ice milk.

In 1965, the Awful Awful milkshake name was replaced with the Fribble, a meaningless name created by customers in a naming contest. Most patrons had no idea why the name was changed. Although it was the same shake, many said it was not as good as its predecessor.

Over the years, the drink has had two other formulas, including the use of soft-serve ice cream and, more recently, Friendly's tasty hard ice cream has become the key ingredient.

In 1935, two brothers, Priestly and Curtis Blake, founded Friendly in Springfield with a single shop offering 5-cent cones.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the brothers expanded their ice cream business into a chain with several New England locations. Their ninth shop opened in Lee in 1950, and within three years they added shops in Great Barrington and Pittsfield. At one time, the company had five locations in Pittsfield, and shops in Lenox and North Adams, as well as those in Lee and Great Barrington. By the mid-1970s, there were over 500 Friendly locations in the country.

In 1979, the Blake brothers sold the chain to the Hershey Co., the first of many new owners. With the proliferation of fast food, ice cream, soft serve and yogurt chains, Friendly struggled to remain competitive. One of the changes occurred in 1989, when the next owner of the company changed the name from Friendly to Friendly's. Despite several other substantive changes during the 1980s through the 2000s, the company had closed many restaurants. By 2011, Friendly's filed for bankruptcy.

The current owner of the Friendly's organization is a private equity firm, Sun Capital Partners, and under its management the ice cream-maker emerged from the bankruptcy.

In making a comeback, Friendly's has renovated its restaurants and changed its menu. Over 160 locations remain open today, and the company has over 10,000 employees. The only original Berkshire Friendly shop is in Pittsfield.

So, why was Friendly's signature shake, the Awful Awful, renamed Fribble?

What happened was that a New Jersey ice cream company had the Awful Awful name trademarked, and Friendly could not sell the milkshake under that name as the chain expanded into New Jersey. Bond's Ice Cream in Montclair, N.J., came up with the name in the 1940s and also the slogan "Awful Big, Awful Good." This was a family-owned company with a traditional ice cream parlor.

In the late 1940s, a Rhode Island dairy bar, the Newport Creamery, began using the "Awful, Awful" name for its thick milkshake. The Bond family sued the Newport Creamery for using the trademarked name. However, the two organizations worked out a deal. The Bonds allowed the Newport Creamery the right to use the Awful Awful name for a mere one-time fee of $1,000. Bond's Ice Cream went bankrupt in the early 1970s, and the Newport Creamery continued to use the Awful Awful name. Today, the Newport Creamery has 13 shops, mostly in Rhode Island, where it still makes Awful Awfuls.

Many boomers wonder what made the Awful Awful so tasty. Although Friendly originally used ice milk in the Awful Awful, the Fribble is now being made with the company's rich ice cream. This is how the original Bond's Ice Cream Awful Awful was made in the 1940s and with only three ingredients: mix or blend 6 ounces of homogenized milk, 2 ounces of flavoring syrup and 3 large scoops, or 8 to 9 ounces, of ice cream.

With 35 flavors of ice cream, Friendly's has the potential for countless milkshake concoctions. The Awful Awful secrets are out, and you be the judge.

Boomers, is this recipe as good as the Awful Awful you remember — or even better?

Jim Shulman, a Pittsfield native living in Ohio, is the author of "Berkshire Memories: A Baby Boomer Looks Back at Growing Up in Pittsfield." If you have a memory of a Berkshire baby-boom landmark, business or event you'd like to share or read about, write Jim at