Last Day of School -- Break Out the Egg Creams!
Posted June 6, 2012
On June 6, 2012, the last day of exams, Lorraine Petrolino in the Main Office celebrated with what she hopes will become an annual tradition -- teaching Delbarton students how to make a proper Egg Cream. See photos here.
Her father ran a luncheonette in Green Point, Brooklyn and Petrolino has made it her mission to share one of the joys of summer: the classic New York Egg Cream. Her first tutorial attendees were 9th graders in the Class of 2008 who graduated from college this year. One boy came back to the Delbarton main office a while back with the ingredients to make Egg Creams, just for old time's sake.
First, what is an egg cream? It's a drink made with chocolate syrup (Fox's U Bet Syrup, invented in Brooklyn in 1895 was popular), milk and seltzer. The concoction dates from the late 19th century and is associated with the borough of Brooklyn, home of its purported inventor, candy store owner Louis Auster.
No eggs? No cream? No worries -- the classic Egg Cream demands neither. To make her Egg Creams, Petrolino poured syrup (Hershey's) into the glass, added several fingers of whole milk (use low fat and kiss your drink goodbye) and vigorously stirred seltzer into the glass as a tempting tan froth rose precipitously close to the edge. She added a pretzel rod swizzle stick for good measure, a Petrolino touch that the boys agreed made the drink "fan-tastic".
This year's Egg Cream aficionados are members of the Class of 2017, seventh graders who made it a daily habit to drop by the office after school to share details of their day. One day Petrolino mentioned Egg Creams and the group made a date for the last day of school. The boys enjoyed their Egg Creams, thanked Mrs. Petrolino, and departed for summer vacation, to be seen again in September probably an inch or two taller, but never too big to enjoy a good Egg Cream.
Are you devastated that school is over for the year? we asked one boy. 'Yes. I cried so much that I got dehydrated and now I can't sweat!", he replied. A little 7th grade humor for you.
Petrolino said later that she received several thank you notes from her after-school crew. One boy wrote: "You made me feel comfortable this year and got me excited to end every day at the office. 7th grade was a very special year thanks to you. See you next year!"
A Teaching Moment
There are many theories about the origins of the egg cream. Some say that since grade "A" milk was used, the 'A' became 'egg' cream. Others surmise that the "Egg" is from the German word echt ("genuine" or "real") and this was a "good cream". The most plausible theory is that the Egg Cream was created to compete with the milkshake (which included egg and cream in the1880s) and keep the price of ingredients low. Most soda fountain items were sold for 5 cents and as eggs and cream became more expensive, some creative mixologist replaced cream with milk, leading to what we now know as a classic Egg Cream.
Variations: Wiki says the Brooklyn Egg Cream consisted of chocolate syrup while the New York Egg Cream used vanilla syrup. We knew we liked Brooklyn, and now we know why.
Similar beverages: Similar? To an Egg Cream? Wiki says other sweet soda- and milk-based beverages include the Vietnamese soda sữa hột gà, a beverage prepared with sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolk and soda water. Well, maay-be. A Korean company makes Lotte Chilsung, a sweet-soda-milk drink using a citrusy soda base mixed with a little milk. Another drink, Milkis, comes in a variety of flavors, including strawberry, orange, and -- sitting down? -- muskmelon. One reviewer said, "I was imagining a taste something like a bubbly condensed milk, but although it’s about as sweet, it’s much thinner and not particularly milk-ish. It’s got a medicinal, Tylenol-y aftertaste that took me right back to my youth." Pu-tooey, Egg Cream wannabees. You are dead to us now.
Although there have been several attempts to bottle the Egg Cream, all have failed miserably. The drink's fresh chocolate-milk flavor and characteristic frothy head require mixing ingredients immediately before drinking.
And what ever you do, don't forget the pretzel rod.