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Brooklyn Egg Cream

So... What's an Egg Cream?

This is a phenomenal beverage, and if you have never had a New York Egg Cream then you are truly in for a treat. Let's start off by explaining what an Egg Cream is (and what it isn't). First, it was a soda produced almost exclusively in the soda fountains of New York (particularly Brooklyn). Second, there are no eggs in an egg cream. Third, many Egg Creams don't even contain cream. It does however contain chocolate, seltzer, and either milk, cream, or both. When made correctly, the taste is absolutely wonderful, and completely different than any soda on the market today. 

The best way to describe the taste of an Egg Cream is to remember back to when you had an ice cream soda. If you can remember sipping on the straw, once the ice cream had a chance to melt, the wonderful taste of flavors produced by the blending of melted ice cream, chocolate syrup, and seltzer water, would best describe how an Egg Cream taste. There are other chocolate soda beverages on the market, but they all taste like chocolate milk made with water. These do not even come close to the complex and wonderfully delightful taste of an Egg Cream.

According to an article published in Esquire Magazine in the  1970's, the Egg Cream was invented in 1890 by Louis Auster, a Jewish candy shop owner in Brooklyn, New York. The beverage was extremely popular, and the candy shop (eventually five candy shops) would be standing room only. Lines would form down the street and around the corner, and according to the article, this started a tradition of drinking the egg cream while standing -- never sitting.

During the 1920's (or maybe the 30's), Mr. Auster was approached by a national ice cream chain, and they offered to buy the rights to the Egg Cream for a fairly small sum. When Mr. Auster turned them down, one of the executives called him by a racial slur, and Mr. Auster vowed to take the Egg Cream formula to his grave. Furthermore, he also instructed the few relatives that knew the secret formula to do the same -- and they all did just exactly that. The only surviving member of the Auster family that still knows the secret is Mr. Auster's grandson, Stanley Auster, and he too has vowed never to reveal the secret. However, Stanley Auster has been quoted as saying that the original Egg Cream contained neither eggs nor cream, and that the origins of its name have been lost.

Here are several theories regarding the name, and ingredients, of the egg cream.

1. When Louis Auster created the Egg Cream it originally contained both eggs and cream and that was were the name came from. However, he may have later changed the formula eliminating the eggs and cream but keeping the same name.

2. The name Egg Cream was derived as a marketing technique. Eggs and cream were both very popular ingredients in better sodas at the time, but added to the cost of the drink. Louis Auster may have found a way to make a drink that tasted like it contained both of these ingredients even though it didn't. Calling the drink an Egg Cream, based on its taste, even though it contained neither may have simply been good marketing. (As a side note, drinks that contained eggs were shaken thoroughly with shaved ice and then strained -- you would have never tasted the egg).

3. It is possible that Louis Auster's Egg Cream contained only chocolate syrup, soda water, and maybe milk -- But the chocolate syrup might have been prepared with both eggs and cream (thus the name).

4. Mr. Auster was Jewish, as were most of his customers at the time the Egg Cream was invented. It is possible the Egg Cream is actually a Yiddish name or phrase that has been Americanized. The Yiddish word for "Pure" is "Ekt" (I hope I got the spelling right). I have no idea what Yiddish word sounds close to cream, but for arguments sake let's say "Keem" is Yiddish for "Sweetness". This would have made "Ekt Keem" or "Pure Sweetness" the original name, and it simply became corrupted into Egg Cream.

5. The most likely theory was sent to me by an old time Brooklynite. He said that when he was a kid (about 60 years ago) he used to order an "A cream." This makes a lot of since. An "A cream" sounds a lot like an "egg cream" and the best soda fountain drink was usually its chocolate drink (its "A" list drink).

In any event, the Egg Cream had a life of its own, and other soda fountain operators began selling they're own versions of the Egg Cream. Initially, each of the different soda fountains produced widely different versions of the Egg Cream, but eventually a formula consisting of seltzer water (3/4 of a glass), chocolate syrup (usually Fox's U-Bet, 1-2 oz.), and either cream or milk (not too much) was settled upon. The Egg Cream remained a product sold only through New York soda fountains for many years. The reason for this was that bottled versions were  impossible to make. The cream, chocolate, and soda had a tendency to separate and to go bad after a couple days at best, and efforts to pasteurize or preserve the product ruined the taste.

That is until the last couple of years. A fellow by the name of Jeff Glotzer partnered up with a friend of his and the two men created a specially patented process to produce an Egg Cream containing the same ingredients as the Egg Creams sold at the old New York soda fountains -- but with a very long shelf life.  Unfortunately, their partnership didn't last and the two men went their separate ways. However, the public now has two sources for an old-fashioned egg cream. Jeff's New York Egg Cream (no longer affiliated with Jeff), and The Big Brooklyn Egg Cream (Jeff's new company).

... This information comes courtesy of "The Soda Fountain."