New York's Egg Cream Drink Doesn't Contain Either Of Those Ingredients

If you've spent any time in the New York City diner scene then you may have seen the famous egg cream on the menu. You might have even tried one yourself! The name egg cream is a bit of a misnomer since the drink contains no eggs or cream. This soda fountain classic actually contains chocolate syrup and milk, which isn't that unusual since that's how chocolate milk is made. The curveball ingredient and the addition that makes an egg cream unique is seltzer water. 

In essence, an egg cream is sparkling chocolate milk, so why the name? Historically, the drink is said to have been invented either in Brooklyn or in Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood; and there is an equal mystery as to where the name came from. Some folks theorize that it comes from the yiddish phrase "echt keem," which translates to "pure sweetness". Others theorize that the frothy top of the drink resembles a drink shaken with egg whites and that might be where it got its name. Regardless of where it was invented and where it got its name, an egg cream is an NYC staple and worth trying if you're visiting.

Why it works

While the idea of sparkling chocolate milk might feel odd, it's really not that different than combining soda with ice cream for a float. The texture and mouthfeel of an egg cream are similar to that of a root beer float once the ice cream is all melted. When it's made right, it can be a decadent and special treat that's refreshing in a way that pure chocolate milk isn't. If you like a milkshake with your burger and fries, an egg cream is lighter and has bubbles like a fountain drink. You might find it easier to digest your meal with an egg cream rather than a thick milkshake. 

If you like fountain drinks and you're visiting New York City, you should give it a whirl because you're more likely to get a good one if you're trying it in the city where it was invented. While New York City might be best known for its slices of pizza, trying different egg creams at different diners around the city is another fun way to explore the city's food scene and compare which are your favorites. If you find that you enjoy the egg cream, you can make one at home, but it's most authentic when made with a specific Brooklyn-based chocolate syrup. 

How to make an egg cream at home

If you want to make an egg cream at home, experts say you should use Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup. Many think it was the brand used to make the first egg cream, so it's the truest way to make it authentically. However, if you don't have access to this product, your favorite chocolate syrup will get the job done. 

To make a classic egg cream, mix two tablespoons of chocolate syrup with one and a half ounces of whole milk then add ¾ cup of cold seltzer water. To get the signature foamy top, pour the seltzer over your stirring spoon and give it a good stir. Since the drink already contains water, you'd be better off using whole milk as opposed to reduced-fat milk. You do want the creamy texture from the milk, otherwise, you're just drinking a chocolate soda (which doesn't sound terrible either). 

If lactose doesn't agree with your stomach you can make a dairy-free egg cream using a dairy-free chocolate syrup and your favorite non-dairy milk.