Egg cream, Pasadena/Bronx-style

As a New York transplant to California (well nigh 40 years now!), I’ve never lost my craving for thirst-quenching egg creams.  Though I don’t have them often, and never make them at home (the pleasure is ordering them at the lunch counter), on a hot California day I’ve been known to have TWO with my BLT at the local luncheonette! Made correctly, they have a nice kind of salty ”bite” and seem to go down very quickly! But Gilly’s link to the article on egg creams had a recipe that I take issue with. In it, Bonni Lee Brown writes that her father, a luncheonette owner, made eggcreams by pouring 1/2 inch of milk in a cola glass, then the seltzer, mixing to foam it up. She has the chocolate syrup poured in last, gently down the side of the glass.  Where I grew up, Smitty’s Pelham Parkway luncheonette on Lydig Avenue poured at least 1/4 inch Fox’s U-Bet in first, then 1/2 inch (or 3/4”) milk, then the seltzer, and then stirred.  It foamed just fine.  Maybe this is just a cultural difference (mine were made in the Bronx, Bonni Lee’s were made in Brooklyn!)?  When we arrived in Southern California, I was delighted to discover a great old-fashioned luncheonette in South Pasadena called The Pharmacy, just 15 minutes away from our Pasadena home. Happily, they offered egg creams!  The first one I had there was a disappointment… too much seltzer, not chocolat-y enough.  I asked the kid at the counter how he made it. He described the system approximately as Bonni Lee Brown transcribed it.  I asked him if he could make me one MY way, while I watched. He agreed, and (perhaps there was more chocolate syrup?), it was perfect!  Sadly (or maybe it’s “healthily”?), my grandchildren are not fond of sweets, and even less fond of chocolate.  I’m on a mission to re-educate them a little! — Carol

Submitted by Carol Selkin (

Carol — I am thrilled you guys have egg creams out in Pasadena. I do agree with you — egg creams have to be made in this order: chocolate syrup, then milk mixed in to make a dark chocolate milk, then the seltzer! The Bronx version wins!!

But ohmyohmyohmy — egg creams were a specialty in Jewish neighborhoods, though not necessarily a Jewish drink in themselves and you have them with BLTs!!!!