Brooklyn Egg Creams and Classic Black & Whites
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The peculiarity of the matter is such that an egg cream contains neither eggs, nor cream…
Brooklyn Egg Creams and Classic Black & Whites are both spectacular singular indulgences. A quick trip back in time for a moment, back to 1900s New York. Back in the day, virtually every block in New York City had what was referred to as a candy shop. Not like the candy shops you would think of today. Back then, candy shops were neighborhood meeting spots. True bodegas. People of all ages frequented candy shops. And in addition to selling sweets as the name would infer, they also featured telephone booths, large newsstands with seats, and a soda fountain. One of the drinks that was often whipped up at the counter of these old-time soda fountains was the chocolate egg cream or Brooklyn Egg Cream as it is better known – one of the Big Apple’s most iconic and nostalgic drinks.
A soda made with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream is called a “black and white” ice cream soda.
When I was a kid, we had a luncheonette in Basking Ridge called The Corner Cupboard. We typically went for a special celebration, and only for dessert. This gem, the only one of its kind in town at that time, featured everything from egg salad on white to banana splits. A trip to The Corner Cupboard was a treat. No matter what the occasion, my choice out of everything on the menu to order was always a Brooklyn Egg Cream or a Black & White ice cream soda. Both were equally delicious, but you always got a little extra with a Black & White – the ice cream. My Mom did not always have the money for the scoop, so many a trip resulted in the gratification of the Egg Cream. I would watch with elation as the soda bubbled away slowly and met the chocolatey refreshment somewhere in the middle of that tall frosty glass. Once the soda was almost gone, I would look around to see if anyone were in earshot of my ‘intent to slurp.’
Celebrate the egg cream and the many handmade drinks of the soda fountain era. A group of independent soda fountain operators have declared March 15 as National Egg Cream Day.
I do not remember candy shops or soda fountains in their hay day. 1970 was when I came along, way past the America that made cola by the glass from syrup and seltzer. I am old enough however, to recall the Egg Cream and the Black & White. These days, the only ice cream being sipped through a straw is by way of a milk shake. And unfortunately, too many of those are made from a dry mix and contain no ice cream at all. Gone are the days of crafting by hand by blending ice cream, syrup, and milk to a froth.
The term soda jerk was a pun on soda clerk, the formal job title of the drugstore assistants who operated soda fountains. The reference was inspired by the “jerking” action the server would use to swing the soda fountain handle back and forth when adding the soda water.
And sadly, Egg Creams and Classic Black & White ice cream sodas seem to have disappeared from popularity along with the fountains and the soda jerks who crafted them. The Brooklyn Egg Cream and Classic Black & White ice cream soda were a singular indulgence. Egg Creams and Classic Black & Whites were built by hand and entirely opulent. The frothy head resembled a third-grade science experiment, lustrous and overflowing the glass. They took time to eat.
Brooklyn Egg Creams and Classic Black & Whites
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chocolate syrup such as Hershey's
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk may be whole milk or 2%
- club soda or seltzer
- whipped cream
- Maraschino cherries
*if making a Classic Black & White, all of the above, and
- 1 biggie scoop quality vanilla ice cream
- Using the tines of a fork, whisk the chocolate syrup together with the milk in a tall milk shake glass.
- SLOWLY add the club soda to the chocolate milk. The mixture will bubble and rise to the top of the glass quickly. Fill as much club soda as it takes to get the mixture to the top without spilling over.
- If you are making a Brooklyn Egg Cream, simply add whipped cream and a cherry.
- If you are making a Classic Black & White ice cream soda, Add a biggie scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side of your glass. Top off with additional club soda if necessary. Add whipped cream and a cherry. ENJOY!
No, No, No, No, No!
No Brooklyn Egg Cream that I ever heard of – or ever drank – ever had whipped cream and a cherry. Ever (or should I say,”Not evah!”) Ah you kiddin’ me? We’d a complained.
And, in the Glory Days, no foo-foo ice-cream soda glasses were used for the humble egg cream. Egg Creams around Brooklyn – at least in the 1950s and 60s – were served in Coca Cola glasses, which came in two sizes. At the time, a small Coke from a neighborhood luncheonette (or candy store) soda fountain generally cost a nickel. A large Coke was a dime. Egg Creams, on the other hand, were 6 cents and 12 cents, in the same respective glasses.. Furthermore, seltzer (sometimes “Vichy”) was used. Never club soda. Club soda is a poor substitute for seltzer in the making of an authentic tasting egg cream. It simply doesn’t have the right smoothness for an egg-cream.
Fox’s U-Bet is the unofficial official chocolate syrup (not Bosco, not Hershey’s) that was used throughout virtually all of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
Know’d om tawkin’ aboud?
El Gee, I have been waiting for somebody from ‘home’ to comment on this post! THANK YOU! Your comment made me laugh a little bit because we ALSO experience these differences with New York style pizza, am I right? 🙂 It seems like everybody has an opinion on the “right way” when it comes to NY pizza; thin crust, thick crust, Sicilian, the GRAVY! Don’t even get me started on the pizza war between NY and NJ, haha. The pie I order in the Bronx is gonna differ from the one I nosh on down the shore guaranteed. You referenced the Glory Days in the 50s and 60s. I grew up in the 70s and 80s and I wonder if between the distance from Brooklyn to Basking Ridge AND it being a later decade has anything to do with the trend in the food. In this case, an Egg Cream. We frequented a little luncheonette in Basking Ridge called The Corner Cupboard. I never remember the egg cream arriving to the table without whipped cream, so I always thought it was ‘correct.’ In later years, when I began waitressing, I was taught how to make an ice cream soda aka a black and white. In both egg creams and black and white’s, we used club soda. Again, I assumed it was ‘correct.’ But what if both methods are correct? Vichy AND club soda? What if whipped cream and a cherry AND no whipped cream and no cherry are both correct? It kinda goes back to my comparison to New York style pizza. It’s LITERALLY all in where and what you grew up knowing. Eating. Watching Ma fix. Don’t you agree? Thank you SO MUCH for opening this discussion. I hope others will feel the need to chime in and tell us how they remember these iconic treats from our tri-state area pasts 🙂 AND, I would LOVE to hear more about YOUR 1950s and 1960s Brooklyn. I never tire of it! Thanks El Gee!
Thank you EI Gee and Jenny deRemer. The authentic Brooklyn Black and White ice cream soda is the biggest secret since the 1950’s and 1960’s. It is my favorite drink by far and I make it at home in the Boston area every day. You are completely correct about the syrup being neither Bosco nor Hershey’s nor any other syrup except for Fox’s U-bet and Nestles NesQuik (less expensive and even better than Fox’sU-Bet). I use Sodastream for the soda and my own vanilla ice cream home made with 5.5 oz sugar, 2 Tbsp Bakers imitation vanilla, 2 Tbsp vodka to prevent crystallization, and one quart of light cream all mixed together with only a spoon and NO machine. A day without a black and white ice cream soda is not complete.. The world would be a happier and more peaceful place if everyone had a black and white ice cream soda every day.
We should fight to bring back this wonderful treat and spread it to all the people of the world.
DAVID! A man TRULY worth his salt! Agreed that the world would be a happier and more peaceful place if everyone could spend a moment sipping the nectar of the Gods! And I LOVE that you make your own ice cream – pinnacle if you grew up loving these at a corner bodega or candy shoppe in the Burroughs as THIS is how they’d have been made. As an aside, I had no idea that Fox’sU-Bet was still in production, so I’m off now to search the net to make an online purchase 🙂 Jenny
You are correct. I use to work at the candy store in brooklyn and still make them To this day while living here in SF. I’m converting everyone here to the right way to make and enjoy. We even have 2 places here that have brought back the old fashioned soda jerk shops where all the sodas are made like when they were in the drug stores. I am always going to their store the Castro Fountain on Castro st, and they make the ice cream and syrups on site. It’s worth the visit to go back in time to have the real thing. And the pizza is all about the water.
Russell, what is entirely funny to me are the comments that THIS POST is garnering – all from people who know exactly what these are and are of the generation to where there is an absolute ‘correct way’ and an ‘incorrect way’ of assembling them. What I do know for a fact is that it’s hard for me to go even a month without at least thinking about or mixing one up. Is it fair to say, “if you know, YOU KNOW?”