What Truly Sets Egg Creams Apart From Other Dairy-Based Drinks?

If you've ever wondered what sets an egg cream soda apart from other dairy-based drinks, you shouldn't let its name fool you. While the beverage can resemble egg whites frothed to a peak, egg cream sodas don't actually contain any eggs. It is a bit of a misnomer. However, you probably wouldn't mistake egg cream sodas for other milk-based drinks either. So what exactly is it about egg cream that sets it apart?

Since egg cream sodas don't contain eggs, they're already very different from the holiday festive drink that is eggnog. Traditionally, eggnog is made from a combination of milk and egg yolks. It's typically served spiked with alcohol for holiday parties but can also be served without alcohol as well. You can find egg cream cocktails with alcohol from time to time. Despite that, egg cream sodas are more of a casual drink in this regard. 

Instead, egg cream sodas get their consistency and frothiness from carbonated water. The carbonated water mixes with the milk as well as flavored syrup, creating a drink that's both creamy and fizzy all at once. This texture is what makes an egg cream soda unique when compared to other dairy-based drinks. 

Don't call it ice cream soda

If you've ever dismissed an egg cream soda as simply a milkshake with a bit of fizz, you should think again. While there are ice cream sodas, especially the ever-popular Coke floats, egg cream sodas don't fall into this camp. The reason is the sodas don't contain ice cream at all, so it's not a frozen drink. In comparison, egg cream sodas are less chunky and easier to gulp down than their milkshake cousins. 

Egg cream sodas have a local history that makes them a New York institution with unique ingredients. While their exact origins are indeed a mystery, many believe that the egg cream soda was invented in either Brooklyn or Manhattan. Some believe that candy shop owner Louis Auster may have developed the drink during the late 1800s. Over the years, the dairy soda has become particularly popular in the city. The beverage owes that popularity to similar candy shops in the 1900s. In comparison, milkshakes and other dairy drinks have enjoyed a wider popularity and accessibility. While almost anyone can tell you what a milkshake is, the popularity of an egg cream soda remains smaller and more localized, making the drink more obscure.