It seems, ages ago, [perhaps for the legitimate reason that, it was, ages ago], that any young boy, residing within the confines of the City of New York, with any acceptable, degree of pride and self- respect, would demonstrate those traits to critical company, by predictably, drinking “egg creams,” only, at an appropriate soda counter. For the benefit of the insufficiently worldly, of our readers, let us proceed to elucidate.

European recorded History, by analogous reference, reveals countless instances of hostility, and outright warfare, between claimants to the throne termed, “pretenders;” one claiming legitimacy, and the other, in its own, forensic, interest, contesting that claim. Ultimately, the true and authentic, Monarch, was said to be, religiously and legally, the choice of the divinity [“Devine Right of Kings”].

In the the heraldic, first half of the 20th Century, it was, demonstrably clear, that only the “wet,” soda fountain establishment, employing a “soda jerk,” who had mastered the artisanal and aesthetically valid, iteration, of the “egg cream” had the irrefutably clear right, to assert that it was the legitimately crowned Realm. It had, but weak opposition, from contenders, existing in the “dry” confectionary establishments.  The authentically, recognized, “wet,” confectionary, establishments, uniformly contained solid, granite-like counters, at which sat, the gourmet imbibers of that truly royal, Olympian nectar, the egg cream. The establishments of sodas and candy, signified as “dry” candy stores, could never field an adequate army of supporters, to initiate any serious challenge, to the latter’s recognized and religiously, authentic, rule. This was, divinely and eternally, ever the case, as to any and all, dry candy stores, albeit, with soda jerks who had, somehow, managed to acquire the exotic mysteries of the ancient, artisanal, “egg cream.”

For those random readers, who, for some [astounding] reason, happen not to be sufficiently schooled, in the conceptual existence of the egg cream, nor, in the vital and elegant process of its assembly, it may be useful to relate, the fundamental facts regarding both vital subjects. We do so, with the benign hope, and in the optimistic expectation, that the vast constellation of its former aficionados, will elect, in a disciplined and charitable manner, to temper their reactions of superiority and haughty impatience.

The legitimate and authentic egg cream (at times, “crème”) is, significantly, and primarily, a product of its artisanal and assiduously correct assembly process, as compared with its actual content. The contents are simply, chocolate syrup (traditionally, Fox’s “U-Bet”, brand), a few ounces of whole milk, and, fountain supplied, carbonated water. To comply with strictly accepted, orthodoxy, the glass should be the standard eight ounce, Coca Cola type; the visible words “Coca Cola”, which may be imprinted on the glass, itself, are not, merely, immaterial, but, in many cases, to the truly experienced cognoscenti, an assurance of the authentic, classic provenance, and quality, of the beverage.

The proper amount (see above) of chocolate syrup, is, customarily, introduced into the drinking glass, by means of a small spigot, located at the top of the syrup jar, or, in instances of large, economy-size containers, on its side. Two quick and short, hand pumps, is the tried and true technique, for balance, in the avoidance of the inclusion of too little, or too much, of this sweet ingredient. The next step is the addition of two or so, ounces of milk. These two, initial steps, are, concededly, within the natural skill, and experience, of any dispenser of so soda. But, from this crucial point on, the actual, defining, or “make or break,” procedure is commenced. It requires, true and assiduous attention, aesthetic skill, and, above all, sufficient experience. Before this final, absolutely, crucial and defining step, one is obliged to disclose, yet, some more revealing, cultural addenda, to the [pardon the expression] mix.

The anonymous esoterica of the “egg cream” is such that, despite its name, no eggs or cream, whatsoever, are included in its artisanal preparation. The beverage bears the distinctive name, solely justified, by its unique creamy-foamy properties. It is the very technique of preparation, which, only if, strictly and orthodoxly replicated, will result in the light, chocolatey, foamy consistency, entitling it to be, a legitimate and divine pretender, to that exotic, appellation.

After the specified chocolate syrup and milk have been dutifully, installed in the glass, the next and, ultimately defining step is, the addition of strong, short, streams of carbonated water, from the soda fountain. But we, must, of necessity, stop here for another caveat; this one, no less than, the ne plus ultra of the legitimate existence of the egg cream.

Every experienced young consumer and aficionado of the drink, would examine the area, proximate to the dispenser of soda, (the “soda jerk”) to observe whether, or not, he kept a long handled, small, metal spoon, at the ready. If none were apparent, the young, but savvy customer, would have, predictably, refrained from placing an order for the drink. This is because the technique of adding the strong bursts of carbonated water, to complete and to give birth to the drink, must be mandatorily, accomplished, by directing the broadcasted carbonated water, on to the back of the, hand held, classically required, long handled, small spoon; the direction of the flow of carbonated water from the concave side of the spoon was, routinely derogated. No other process will produce the legitimately, authentic, egg cream, as opposed to a milky, chocolatey and illegitimate, pretender to the divine name.  The authentically made drink, resulted in a properly combined, active, and integrated carbonation with the milk and chocolate, producing the desired, creamy and highly valued drink.

The authentically constructed egg cream, may not have been, as in the case of a true and legitimate European monarch, the claimed manifestation of divine right, but, in the realm of the appreciative youngster, it was, incontrovertibly, “divine”.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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