The Egg Cream: A Deliciously Mysterious History

The egg cream, a beloved New York City classic, is a drink shrouded in mystery. Despite its name, it contains neither eggs nor cream. So, why is it called an egg cream? And where did this iconic beverage originate?

The Origins of the Egg Cream: A Journey Through Time

The origins of the egg cream are as disputed as its ingredients. Several theories attempt to explain its peculiar name:

  • Yiddish Connection: Some believe the name derives from the Yiddish word “echt keem,” meaning “pure sweetness.” This theory aligns with the drink’s simple yet satisfying flavor profile.
  • Brooklyn Speak: Another theory suggests that “egg cream” is simply Brooklyn slang for “a cream,” referring to the creamy texture of the drink.
  • Foamy Top: The egg cream’s frothy head, resembling beaten egg whites, could also be the source of its name.
  • French Connection: A less popular theory proposes that the name originated from a Parisian chocolate drink called “chocolat et crème,” which a Yiddish actor, Boris Thomashevsky, requested upon returning to New York. His thick accent might have mispronounced the drink as “chocolate egg cream,” leading to the name’s adoption.

While the exact origin of the name remains a mystery, historical evidence suggests that the egg cream emerged in the late 19th or early 20th century, likely in New York City’s Jewish communities.

The Evolution of the Egg Cream: From Humble Beginnings to Iconic Status

Early versions of the egg cream, dating back to the mid-19th century, included eggs and cream. However, by the late 19th century, chocolate syrup and eggs were commonly added to various soda fountain drinks.

The egg cream’s popularity soared in the early 20th century, becoming a staple in New York City’s candy shops and soda fountains. These establishments served as community gathering places, offering a refreshing escape from the city’s heat with a delicious egg cream.

The Egg Cream: A Recipe for Nostalgia

The classic egg cream recipe is remarkably simple:

  • Milk: The base of the drink, providing a creamy texture and subtle sweetness.
  • Seltzer Water: Adds fizz and effervescence, creating a refreshing contrast to the milk’s richness.
  • Chocolate or Vanilla Syrup: The flavoring agent, adding a touch of sweetness and chocolatey or vanilla goodness.

The debate surrounding the ideal egg cream recipe centers on the order of ingredients. In the Bronx, the seltzer is added after the syrup, resulting in a brown head of foam. However, the Brooklyn style, considered the “authentic” method, involves adding the seltzer before the syrup, creating a white, foamy head.

The Egg Cream: A Legacy of Sweetness and Mystery

While the egg cream’s origins and name remain shrouded in mystery, its legacy as a beloved New York City tradition endures. Though its popularity has waned since the rise of bottled and canned beverages, the egg cream continues to be enjoyed in select NYC establishments and along the East Coast.

The egg cream’s simple yet satisfying flavor, combined with its intriguing history, makes it a truly unique and nostalgic treat. Whether you enjoy it in Brooklyn, the Bronx, or beyond, the egg cream offers a taste of New York City’s rich history and culinary heritage.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Egg Cream

What is an egg cream made of?

An egg cream is made with milk, seltzer water, and chocolate or vanilla syrup.

Why is it called an egg cream if it doesn’t contain eggs or cream?

The exact origin of the name is unknown, but several theories exist. Some believe it comes from the Yiddish word “echt keem,” meaning “pure sweetness,” while others suggest it’s Brooklyn slang for “a cream” or refers to the drink’s foamy head.

Where did the egg cream originate?

The egg cream likely originated in New York City’s Jewish communities in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Where can I find an egg cream?

Egg creams can still be found in some NYC establishments and along the East Coast.

How do I make an egg cream?

The classic egg cream recipe involves adding milk to a tall glass, followed by seltzer water and chocolate or vanilla syrup. The order of ingredients varies depending on whether you prefer the Bronx or Brooklyn style.

What is the difference between the Bronx and Brooklyn style egg cream?

In the Bronx style, the seltzer is added after the syrup, resulting in a brown head of foam. The Brooklyn style involves adding the seltzer before the syrup, creating a white, foamy head.

What is the best way to enjoy an egg cream?

The best way to enjoy an egg cream is to savor its simple yet satisfying flavor and appreciate its rich history as a New York City tradition.

The more widely believed theory, however, attributes the creation of the egg cream to Louis Auster, a man who owned a popular candy shop on the Lower East Side. As the story goes, he concocted the first egg cream by accident. The drink used the family’s store-made syrup, and it become so popular that it’s said he sold thousands a day. According to a 1964 New York Tribune article, “The Egg Cream Mystique,” Auster’s son Emmanuel stated, “We are in business since 1892. We started in at Stanton-Lewis Streets on the lower East Side. About 1900, my father originated egg cream chocolate. We made all our syrups.”

There are also a number of legends that describe how the drink was made. Historian Andrew Smith mentions the 1880s popular beverage that was made by combining soda water, cream, and raw eggs with chocolate syrup. His chronology indicates that the egg cream that is served and consumed in less affluent areas was the variation that we are familiar with today.

One theory as to how the name came about was that grade “A” milk was typically used to make the drink and the name “chocolate A cream” eventually became “egg cream.” Another supposed origin is a bit more simple – the name “Egg Cream” is an Americanization of “echt keem,” which is Yiddish for “pure sweetness.” A third possibility stars a Yiddish theater pioneer from the 1880s named Boris Thomashefsky, who apparently asked a New York soda jerk to make for him the Parisian drink “chocolate et creme,” and the correct pronunciation of the word was lost in translation.

There are a lot of culinary firsts in New York City, like Eggs Benedict and Brooklyn Blackout Cake. However, while the majority of our culinary favorites have a clear history, the New York Egg Cream is not one of them. The beloved beverage, which doesn’t contain eggs or cream, is made with Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, seltzer water, and a dash of milk, adding to the confusion surrounding its story. A few theories concerning the name and origin of the Egg Cream are currently circulating; each one varies in terms of time and place, but most of them affirm that the drink’s origins can be traced back to Eastern European Jewish immigrants living on the Lower East Side.

The mystery of of how this old school New York drink came to be only adds to its allure. If you’re looking to try the delicious treat, the two most famous spots for scoring an authentic egg cream are Gem Spa newsstand in Manhattan’s East Village or Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop on Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street.

Many people find that it is more enjoyable to endlessly speculate about the origins of common words than it is to actually accomplish anything, especially if these origins are unclear or disputed. The conjecture regarding the origins of different food or drink varieties is almost as fulfilling. The result of combining these two types of conjecture is the egg cream.

One issue with all of these theories is that there is proof that, as early as the first half of the 19th century, drinks with cream and eggs were referred to as “egg cream.” No syrup, chocolate or otherwise, is mentioned in the earliest recipes that we are aware of, but by the end of the 1800s, it seems to have been a standard addition, along with eggs, to drinks that were served at soda counters. ”.

Sitting next to me, one day, was an older kid. He ordered an egg cream. I watched Al make it. Somehow I missed the egg and the cream. The dark chocolate and the foam that emerged from the glass were things I didn’t miss. I was an allergic kid; chocolate was a no-no. One day I vowed to break “the law. ” But there’s more first….

What is an egg cream? It is defined as “a sweetened drink made with milk or cream and other ingredients; especially, a drink consisting of milk, a flavoring syrup, and soda water” before we move on to the history of this beverage. This definition is probably going to be disappointing to some people because the supporters of egg cream, many of whom are older New Yorkers, especially from Brooklyn, have a much stricter idea of what constitutes an egg cream. These partisans believe that the legendary egg cream of the 20th century can only be considered authentic if it contains specific ingredients (milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup), is made with a particular brand of chocolate, and the seltzer comes from a soda fountain as opposed to a bottle. Although we acknowledge that this might be the greatest egg cream, there is enough linguistic evidence of numerous other varieties of this beverage that our definition is more inclusive.

Although its precise origins are unknown, egg cream is generally understood to be a beverage made with milk, flavoring syrup, and soda water. Since the early 19th century, the name has been applied to a variety of drinks, some of which may contain real eggs or cream. ”.

#72 An oral history of the NY Egg Cream and DIY soda making.


Why is there no egg in egg cream?

TL;DR: The drink probably did originally contain eggs and cream, but cost-conscious soda fountains eliminated them, leaving the drink as one made of chocolate + milk + carbonated water.

What’s the difference between an egg cream and an ice cream soda?

It’s National Ice Cream Soda Day Egg Creams contain neither eggs nor cream. Egg cream soda is made with milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup. I quickly learned in my research stage that an egg cream is not an ice cream soda, and so I began my journey.

What makes up a New York City egg cream?

This classic New York City drink is made in minutes with only three ingredients: U-bet Chocolate Syrup, ice cold milk and freshly opened ice cold seltzer water. This drink is bubbly and so refreshing; you’ll want to make it again and again. Is it a milkshake? No.

What does an egg cream taste like?

What does egg cream taste like? Like a very thin, fizzy, watered-down milkshake. But it tastes good, so I suppose that’s not really the best description. It’s more like a watered-down, carbonated hot chocolate.

What is an egg cream?

An egg cream is a classic American drink that has been around for over a century. Despite its name, it contains neither eggs nor cream. Instead, it is made with milk, carbonated water, and flavored syrup, typically chocolate or vanilla. The origins of the egg cream are somewhat of a mystery, with several conflicting stories about its creation.

How can I get fair skin using eggs?

Egg white is often used by people to skin lightening. However there is little clinical evidence supporting it’s benefits. It is used widely for its benefits- vitamins, minerals present inside egg. It can be used along with lemon juice and left for 5-10 mins or used in combination with other face mask ingredients like honey, turmeric, etc.

Why is egg cream called ‘You Bet it’s good’?

While his money stayed in Texas, the Texan term “you bet it’s good” became part of his syrup’s name. In the 2018 documentary “ Egg Cream,” food historian Andrew Coe describes egg creams as a cheap copy of the soda fountain drinks from the fancier neighborhoods of New York.

Why is squirm called egg cream?

His heavy accent altered the name into something like “egg cream,” which then developed into the current term. The egg cream features prominently in the creature feature horror film Squirm.

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