New York Egg Cream is a Sweet Though Confusing Confection

Contrary to common sense, the New York Egg Cream contains neither eggs nor cream, so let’s get that out of the way.  An egg cream is a fountain drink made popular in New York in the 1900s and may be my favorite use of seltzer to date.  Several places in New York are now offering vegan versions, and with three ingredients you can mix up the treat yourself. 

Soda jerk at work
Soda Jerk at work at Brooklyn Farmacy photo via h-bomb on flickr

So what’s with the name, anyway?  Last year Robert Simonson wrote a piece for Edible Manhattan involving much investigative journalism into New York egg cream past and present around Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Though there isn’t one story all he spoke with would agree upon regarding name, many believe it may have to do with the froth on the top of drink resembling egg cream. Simonson writes of a different origin story:

Another common yarn, largely unsubstantiated, is that 19th century Yiddish stage star Boris Thomashevsky created the drink after sampling something called a “chocolat et crème” during a Parisian tour. In this country, Yiddish tongues mispronounced it as something that sounded like “chocolate egg cream.” This story helps explain why Second Avenue, formerly a theatre district known as Yiddish Broadway, remains the heart of egg-cream culture.

Upon recommendation from our neighbors, last week my girlfriend and I checked out Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn.  Scrolling through their blog should give you a sense of why their existence is a net win for Brooklyn and the world at large.  The old fashioned charm of the place spills out from the architecture and locally made items sold from the shelves line the walls of the store, including handmade wooden toys and many a pickled product.

Tall glass of egg cream
Photo courtesy of couldntbeparve on flickr

Another ice cream shop in the LES of Manhattan serving up all-vegan versions of ice cream dishes as well as vegan Egg Cream is Lulu’s Sweet Apothecary.  Their shop is quite tiny, but it’s also all vegan so seeing the adorable little shop busy is hard to complain too much about.

Seltzer bottles
photo courtesy of MissMeng's via Flickr

Three ingredients are involved in the making of New York egg cream: chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer.  For the yummy vegan versions, this recipe recommends using So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer to get the thicker consistency. Making your own syrup is also an option.

Both fizzy and chocolatey, it’s easy to see why this drink made with three cheap and simple ingredients should remain a popular treat.


By Jamie J. Hagen

Jamie J. Hagen lives in Brooklyn and is a Contributing Editor for Autostraddle and writer for The Line Campaign. Follow her on twitter @jamiejhagen and visit her personal website for more of her work.

3 replies on “New York Egg Cream is a Sweet Though Confusing Confection”

Hi Jamie! Thank you so much for including the link to the vegan recipe. I love So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer, and I never would have thought of using it to make an egg cream! I haven’t had one since becoming vegan, and now I can hardly wait! @coulditbeparve Your photo is making my mouth water! Thank you for creating the recipe!

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