American Classics: Classic Egg Creams

American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

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Classic Egg Creams

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Ah, the egg cream. Is there a more iconic New York beverage? The history of the egg cream is an interesting, if muddled, one. For starters the drink contains neither eggs nor cream. And there isn't a popular consensus on where the unusual name comes from. Is it a mispronunciation of the French "chocolat et crème" or an Americanization of the Yiddish phrase "echt keem" which means "pure sweetness"? We'll likely never know.

What we do know is that it's been a popular beverage at soda fountains and delis for well over a century. You can still find egg creams in the City, though it's not as easy as when they were at the height of fashion. An egg cream is a simple beverage, just chocolate syrup (Fox's U-Bet, only!), milk, and seltzer.

Maybe for modern times it's not pizzazz-y enough—I mean, if you drink venti caramel, mocha, and cookie crunch Frappucinos for breakfast, it might seem rather tame. But to me it's a sip of joy, a nostalgic delight and one that you can make at home for an anytime trip down memory lane. In the run up to Passover, keep your eyes out for the Kosher for Passover bottles, made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered literary agent by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie, a Midtown Lunch contributor, and co-author of New York à la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks. You can follow her on Twitter at @BlondieBrownie.

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