Peter Pan Bakery's egg cream. (Photo by Daniel Krieger)

eggcreamthing14.jpgEgg creams—described as frothy and bubbly and sugary and milky all at once—don't exactly sound delicious, but somehow they are. The classic New York City staple—invented in Brooklyn or on the Lower East Side, depending on who you ask—mysteriously contains no egg nor cream. The most popular origin story is as follows:

"Sometime in the 1890s, [LES] candy shop owner Louis Auster concocted the drink by accident. It’s said he sold thousands a day. But when Auster refused to sell the rights to the drink to an ice cream chain, a company executive called him an anti-Semitic slur and he vowed to take the formula to his grave. Without Auster’s special syrup, other soda fountains relied on a Brooklyn original: Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup, containing water, sugar, corn sweeteners, cocoa and some secret things.”

Meanwhile, former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has called it "Brooklyn’s official elixir." Perhaps a new play will clear everything up?

Bon Appetit and Tablet have gotten together to produce "an old-time radio play (written by Justin Bartha, Emil and Sigmund Stern) about the sweet, syrupy egg cream racket of New York City in the 1920s." It will be performed live at Russ & Daughters Cafe at a private event next week, and a previously taped version will be released as a podcast on November 20th. The play features Justin Bartha, Richard Kind, Alex Karpovsky, Ari Graynor, Ellen Barkin, Lewis Black, Joe Grifasi, and more. Before tuning in, try out one (or all) of the city's best egg creams.

  • Best Overall: Russ & Daughters, Lower East Side
  • Most Underrated: Yonah Schmimmel, Lower East Side
  • Best Chocolate Egg Cream: Square Diner, Tribeca and @ Eisenberg’s, Flatiron
  • Best Pairing: Egg Cream + Donuts @ Peter Pan Bakery, Greenpoint
  • Best Egg Cream Revival @ Brooklyn Farmacy, Carroll Gardens
  • Most Authentic @ Eddie’s Sweet Shop, Forest Hills and @ Hinsch’s, Bay Ridge
  • Best Egg Cream Ritual @ Gem Spa, East Village
  • Best Atmosphere @ Tom’s, Prospect Heights and @ Neil’s Coffee Shop, Upper East Side
  • Most Cinematic @ Katz’s Deli, Lower East Side

To make your own, all you need is 2 tablespoons Fox's U-Bet chocolate (or vanilla) syrup, 1 1/2 ounces whole milk, 3/4 cup seltzer, and a fountain glass.