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|Country of origin||United States|
|Ingredients||Chocolate syrup, milk, soda water|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Ingredients||Chocolate syrup, milk, soda water|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2010)|
|This article possibly contains original research. (August 2010)|
An egg cream is a beverage consisting of milk, and soda water as well as vanilla or chocolate syrup, and is especially associated with Brooklyn, home of its alleged inventor, late 19th-century candy store owner Louis Auster. Most modern versions of the drink contain neither eggs nor cream.
The egg cream is almost exclusively a fountain drink. Although there have been several attempts to bottle it, none has been wholly successful, as its fresh taste and characteristic head require mixing of the ingredients just before drinking.
The origin of the name "egg cream" is a subject of debate. One theory is that grade "A" milk was used in its creation, leading to the name "a chocolate A cream", thus sounding like 'egg' cream. Stanley Auster, the grandson of the beverage's alleged inventor, has been quoted as saying that the origins of the name are lost in time. One commonly accepted origin is that "Egg" is a corruption of the German (also found in Yiddish) word echt ("genuine" or "real") and this was a "good cream". It may also have been called an "Egg Cream" because in the late 19th century, there were already many chocolate fountain/dessert drinks using actual eggs (e.g. 'Egg Brin'), and Auster wanted to capitalize on the name.
Darcy S. O'Neil, author of the book Fix the Pumps, a historical look at soda fountains, claims that the "New York Egg Cream" is a variation of the original milkshake served at soda fountains throughout America in the late 19th century.
Around 1885 the milkshake became a popular item at soda fountains. Unlike today's thick, ice cream like consistency, the original milkshakes were made with sweet cream (sometimes frozen as "ice cream"), a whole egg, flavored syrup and soda water. The egg, cream and syrup were shaken in a cocktail shaker until light and frothy, then poured into a glass where the soda water was added.
The Egg Cream was most likely a version created to keep the price low, as most soda fountain items were sold for 5 cents. As eggs and cream became more expensive, and as a result of health concerns stemming from using raw eggs in an uncooked product, they would be removed (eggs) or replaced (cream) with milk leading to what we now know as a New York Egg Cream.
The real inventor of what is known as the traditional egg cream (chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer) was Nathan Herman and Jack Witt (his brother in law) who founded Herman and Witt circa 1910. Both were residents of Crown Heights in Brooklyn. They created a syrup company which supplied chocolate and other syrups to candy stores which had soda fountains. They later sold the company to what became Fox's U-Bet, an early competitor (per Doris Herman Leonard, born 1924, daughter of Nathan Herman).
According to Nathan (as related to and by his daughter Doris), around 1910 sitting in a local deli in Brooklyn, Nathan and Jack discussed how to build their syrup company. They were determined to create a refreshing drink at a low cost and called it "egg cream", which contained neither eggs nor cream, since these were more expensive ingredients. They promoted this idea and it rapidly became a fixture in candy shops and the most popular drink of thirsty New Yorkers.
Another explanation comes from reports that it grew out of a request for "chocolat et crème" from someone, possibly the actor Boris Thomashefsky who had experienced a similar drink in Paris, which name morphed phonetically into the current version. Yet another plausible answer is that the first version did, in fact, use egg and cream, but due to the food limitations in WWII they were dropped from the recipe. One work from 1859, Domestic and rural affairs.: The family, farm and gardens, and the domestic animals, does include a recipe that consists of barely more than these two ingredients:
"Egg Cream: The yolks of three eggs, and a dessertspoonful of good new milk or cream, add two drops of oil of cinnamon. This is a very good nourishing mixture. The oil of cinnamon is cordial and tonic, and the above has been recommended in lung complaints..."
A similar recipe still was cited at the beginning of the 20th century, but had already dropped the cream:
The yolks of 6 eggs, 1/2 pint of water, juice of 1 lemon, 2 oz. of sifted sugar, a little cinnamon. Beat up all the ingredients, put the mixture into a saucepan over a sharp fire, and whisk it till quite frothy, taking care not to let it boil; fill into glasses and serve at once."
Another from the same year (1915) uses both ingredients, though the intent here seems to be to reinforce whipped egg whites:
2 tablespoons fresh cream, the white of 1 egg.
Put the white of egg on to a plate and beat to a stiff froth with the flat of a knife. (A palette knife is the best.) Then beat the cream into it. This makes a nourishing dressing for either vegetable salad or fruitsalad. Especially suitable for invalids and persons of weak digestion."
Because a traditional egg cream relied upon seltzer under high pressure being delivered via a siphon nozzle rather than poured from a bottle, modern preparation has been slightly altered to preserve the traditional layer effect.
Milkis, a beverage made by the Korean Company, Lotte Chilsung, is also a sweet-soda-milk drink. It is a citrusy soda base mixed with a little milk. Milkis comes in a variety of flavors, including strawberry, orange, and muskmelon.
A Smith and Curran (or Smith and Kearns) is an alcoholic beverage, developed in North Dakota during the mid-20th-century oil boom, made of coffee liqueur, cream, and soda water. Other alcoholic cocktail variants that make use of eggs include the sour (cocktail), the fizz (cocktail) and the flip (cocktail).
In June 1980, Stuart Grunther and Ron Roth owned a siphon seltzer distributing company in NYC called Seltzer Unlimited. They were responsible for creating the world's largest chocolate egg cream in Central Park, NY. It was 110 gallons in size and the contents were given away. Major media coverage included the AP wire services. The event was sponsored by Fox's U-Bet syrup and the NYC Parks Department.
"The Midterms" - the third episode of the second season of The West Wing has President Bartlett telling Toby Ziegler that he was drinking the best beverage he has had in his entire life; proceeding to describe it as a concoction of cold milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer. Toby tells him that the drink is called an Egg Cream, was invented in Brooklyn, and there are some good things in the world that aren't from New England - which 'offends' the President.
In the third-season episode of Seinfeld, "The Dog", Elaine can be seen fixing chocolate egg creams for her and Jerry.
In the television sketch-comedy series Saturday Night Live, an episode in which Jon Hamm hosts features a skit called "Two A-Holes At An Ad Agency in the 1960s" (parodying Mad Men), and the Pete Campbell character offers the clients an egg cream to assuage them.
In episode 3, season 3 of "The Nanny" ("Dope Diamond"), Fran, Sylvia and Yetta go together to therapy. When Yetta lets it slip that she got knocked up "by the seltzaer man," (hence, Sylvia is his daughter), Sylvia wonders if that is why she loves egg cream.
In season 4, episode 9 "Sniper (Part 2)" of Homicide: Life on the Street, Detective Frank Pembleton orders a chocolate egg cream at the end of the episode, only to reject it as "too watery" (leading to speculation that it might be made with skim milk). Pembleton, a New York native transplanted to Baltimore, might reasonably be assumed to be snobbish about the drink.
In season 1, episode 5 "Catherine" of Masters of Sex, Provost Barton Scully suggests to Dr. Ethan Haas that he take the Provost's daughter, Vivian Scully, out for an egg cream. The couple is later seen drinking chocolate egg creams in a diner.
In Louise Fitzhugh's classic novel Harriet the spy, Harriet "didn't really like sodas that much, so she had an egg cream, which she loved" at a drugstore with Ol' Golly and her date.
March 15th is National Egg Cream Day, which celebrates not only the egg cream but also the many handmade drinks of the soda fountain.