Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Why do they call it an "Egg Cream?"

After all, it typically has neither as an ingredient.

I have gotten several inquiries on this topic, typically from folks who have fond memories of this remarkable soda fountain drink, typically made from seltzer water, syrup and a small amount of milk. The origin of the term is a mystery, although some people from the Bronx have told me that they have, indeed, had such concoctions which had a small amount of egg white mixed in -presumably to create a thick, frothy head. And others have told me that they have enjoyed the drink with a small amount of heavy cream, or a dollop of ice cream.

As in a game of Fire Escape Basketball, there are no official rules for making an egg cream. Each "Soda Jerk," (as practitioners of the art have historically been called - and not with derision) has had his/her own recipe. And, like a properly-poured pint of Guinness, there's a certain skill in preparing a good one. But most have called for Fox's U-Bett syrup, milk and real seltzer water - from a fountain or siphon. I have tried homemade egg creams created with bottled seltzer; bottled soda water is to the fountain type what real draught beer is to what you get in a can. It just doesn't cut it.

Fortunately, there has been a revival of interest in the egg cream, and more and more restaurants have been offering them - of varying quality. One place actually made them at your table, with the waitress bringing over a siphon bottle. I've gotten inquiries from many countries asking where one can get a really good egg cream in NYC, and I honestly can't say. If anyone has a recommendation, please post it.


At 11:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one would love to know where I can get an old-fashioned vanilla egg cream. I loved going after school to any candy store with a fountain for one. Doug E.

At 9:24 PM , Blogger Tony the Tour Guy said...

Actually, egg creams are becoming quite popular again, and many diners and restaurants feature them. I don't recall any real, old-fashioned ice cream parlor/soda fountain shops, however.

The best egg cream I've had in years was at a small place in Chelsea, but it's gone now.


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