Kitchn Love Letters

The $3 Pantry Staple I Use to Recreate My Favorite Diner Drink

published Aug 8, 2022
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A person standing in front of an open refrigerator inside a kitchen
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

In a world of ever-changing drink fads (looking at you, chlorophyll water), there’s one old-school delight that lives in my heart rent-free — and that’s the classic diner egg cream. Slightly thicker than chocolate milk, but thinner than a milkshake, egg creams are the Goldilocks of delightful, chocolatey drinks.

Made neither of eggs nor cream, it is a seemingly strange but incomparably tasty concoction of ice-cold milk, seltzer, and Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Flavored Syrup. Sweet, refreshing, creamy, and bubbly, it continues to stand the test of time more than a century after its invention.

Although egg creams are less common in diners and restaurants these days, it’s easy to make one at home, as long as you have a bottle of Fox’s, the key ingredient in this classic drink.

Credit: Jessica Prudenti-Montalvo

What’s So Great About Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Flavored Syrup?

A hallmark of the drink’s retro origins, Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Flavored Syrup is still sold in the same brown bottle emblazoned with a yellow and red label proclaiming the syrup a “Brooklyn original since 1900.” It has a distinct chocolate flavor and is thinner than most other chocolate syrups, making it ideal not only for egg creams, but also for swirling into cakes (it’s great in marbled coffee cake and chocolate cheesecake swirl bars) and drizzling on sundaes, fresh fruit, or a mound of whipped cream.

I have fond memories of standing in the kitchen as a little girl while my father whipped up an egg cream for us to share. He’d pour an inch of the syrup in a tall glass, followed by a couple of inches of cold milk. He’d fill the rest of the glass with seltzer — yes, all the way to the top! And then, using an extra-long spoon (like the one you’d use for eating a milkshake or stirring iced tea), he’d stir the whole thing vigorously to create a foamy top.

Credit: Jessica Prudenti-Montalvo

I had the vital task of slurping up the foam before it spilled over the edge of the glass and all over the counter. (It was a job I took very seriously and, not to brag, excelled at.) Once the foam had been tamed, we’d take turns carefully sipping from the edge of the glass until there were little more than bubbles left.

Between the foam and my attempts to pour those last few dribbles into my mouth, my shirt would often be speckled with cocoa-colored spots — the telltale sign to my mother that we’d enjoyed an egg cream without her! But egg creams were (and still are) a father-daughter tradition, and one that she never minded, even if it did occasionally spoil my appetite for dinner.

These days, I’m the one whipping up the egg creams for my father and me — especially during the height of summer. But now instead of just one glass, there are two. They’re just too delicious to share!

Buy: Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Flavored Syrup, $2.69 for 22 ounces at Instacart

Do you have a nostalgic summer drink? Tell us about it in the comments below.