History Of The New York Egg Cream
Egg Cream drinks are as old as the soda fountain itself. Many pharmaceutical soda recipe books from the 1800s contain multiple egg cream recipes with different syrup flavors. Flavors ranged from orange or cherry to ones flavored with lavender and rose flower syrups. Many of these recipes consisted of syrups for flavor, an egg for protein, and to act as an emulsifier, heavy cream, and soda water. These drinks were trendy and seen as healthy drinks. Like today’s health nut drinking a protein shake in the morning, egg creams were a high protein meal replacing morning drink. Beyond being high in protein, egg yolks contain lecithin, an emulsifier. This made them particularly useful in drinks where settling occurred, like cocoa powder settling on the bottom of a drink. Lecithin also helps emulsify the oils found in chocolate syrup. In 1894 Milton Hershey invented a cocoa powder with most volatile oils removed. But before this, chocolate syrup had a small layer of fat that could only be emulsified with an egg. Chocolate was also one of the best flavors to mask the taste of morphine or other opiates. This made chocolate soda the favorite flavor of customers consuming opiates.
In the May 8, 1971 issue of the New York Magazine, in an article by Daniel Bell, he claims his uncle invented egg creams in the 1920s. Obviously, that’s not the case, but the article does provide great insight into how the New York Egg Cream came into its current form. In the horribly titled article, “The Creaming of Uncle Hymie” Daniel Bell recounts how the egg cream originally had eggs and heavy cream. Unfortunately, the constraints of the Great Depression forced soda fountains to cut the expensive eggs out and replace cream with cheaper milk. This places the present-day New York Egg Cream’s creation around the 1930s and explains its name and lack of eggs and cream.
If you have never had a New York Egg Cream, it’s a fantastic drink. Its tastes like a light and creamy chocolate milk. The bubbles give the drink great texture, and the soda water thins the chocolate milk just enough to make it a refreshing drink.