Famous Soda Pops I Have Known, Vol. VII: Yoo-hoo and Egg Creams

I really had no plan to post so many soda pop discussions in a row, but people keep making comments when I share the posts in The Gomer and Goober Comic Book Literary Guild page that prompt another post.

When I discussed Choc-Ola, I mentioned that it differed from the popular Yoo-hoo in that it contained 40% actual milk. Yoo-hoo contains only whey derived from milk and nonfat dry milk and is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Still, Yoo-hoo has been around since 1926. It used to contain real dairy. The Italian-American who invented it already sold a line of fruit drinks that were generically called Yoo-hoo. While watching his wife preserving homemade tomato sauce, he hit upon the idea that led to a process to make a chocolate soft drink that wouldn’t spoil. After perfecting the process, the same term “Yoo-hoo” was also used for the new chocolate beverage.

Yoo-hoo became best known in the 1950s and ‘60s after a promotional campaign that featured the World Champion New York Yankees touting the drink. Yogi Berra was usually shown wearing a suit while drinking one, with the phrase, “It’s Me-he for Yoo-hoo.” The drink still sporadically appears in popular culture, from A Few Good Men to Friends to “The Bubble Boy” episode of Seinfeld.

One blog follower noted she sometimes made an egg cream as a substitute for Choc-Ola. The famed “New York Egg Cream” is a fountain drink that contains neither egg, cream, nor ice cream. It is usually associated with New York City, especially Brooklyn. The egg cream is believed to have been invented there in the 1890s by a Jewish immigrant candy store owner, Louis Auster. It is made with chocolate syrup, whole milk, and seltzer. The syrup gives a creamy consistency and the rich flavor made some believe it contained egg. Hence the name contrary to the actual ingredients. 

An egg cream done right at Junior’s Restaurant in Times Square.
My travesty of an attempt to make an egg cream before ever tasting one.

I had the pictured egg cream at Junior’s Restaurant in Times Square, but on a previous trip there I bought a pint glass at Junior’s without actually tasting an egg cream at the time. When I returned home, I foolishly attempted to make my own egg cream before ever actually tasting one. It was a miserable failure due to my lack of research into how to properly prepare the drink. My glass from Junior’s in Times Square is misleading if followed literally. “Fill up with seltzer” means fill until the foam head fills the glass. As you can see, before stirring I let the foam dissolve and kept adding seltzer until I had literally filled the glass. I now know the drink has to have a head and if the straw won’t stand up in the foam without touching the sides, “you done it wrong.” I’ve also now learned that Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup is a necessity with most sources saying using a national brand like Hershey’s will result in an inferior egg cream. (Naturally, I bought U-Bet at a grocer while there.) The lack of a high-pressure siphon nozzle used in the actual fountain drink also results in some difference in a homemade egg cream.

Jeff’s Chocolate Soda Amazing New York Egg Cream is an attempt to create a bottled version of the egg cream fountain drink. It’s made with the same general ingredients but undergoes a process similar to Yoo-hoo that allows the dairy in it not to spoil. (The beverage industry had to create a new category for this soda: “dairy-based carbonated beverage.”)

This bottled version obviously does not have the foam head of the fountain drink made fresh, but the flavor is surprisingly close. The company is actually based in Illinois and began offering these bottled egg creams in the 1990s.

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