Pittsburgh Egg Cream by
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Prompted By Comfort Food

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Egg creams are like mother’s milk for us New Yorkers and they’re on the beverage menu in every coffee shop and diner in the five boroughs.   Yet apparently in other parts of the country this ambrosial comfort drink is practically unknown!

After visiting friends in Pittsburgh years ago,   we were waiting for our flight home when we went into an airport coffee shop.   My husband Danny asked for a chocolate egg cream and the guy behind the counter looked puzzled.

”I can make malteds and cream sodas and milkshakes,  but I never heard of an egg cream,”   he said,  “what is it?”

“It’s a fountain drink made with three simple ingredients,” Danny told him, “but the key to making a good one is the order you mix them.   If you’re willing to try I’ll tell you how.”

He was willing,  and following Danny’s  instructions,  he took a tall glass,  poured in about two fingers of chocolate syrup,  mixed in about the same measure of milk,  and then poured in seltzer while stirring briskly,  leaving a few inches at the top to create a foamy head.

“But what about the egg?”,  he asked.

And Danny explained,  “The term ‘egg cream’ is really a misnomer,   it refers to the foam that LOOKS like beaten egg whites,  and makes a white mustache on your upper lip when you drink it.“

Then Danny tasted his Pittsburgh egg cream and gave a thumps up.   The counter guy beamed.  “It’s on the house.”  he said.

But what about the cream you may ask since the recipe calls only for milk.   Well,  not always it seems.   We’ve had the best egg creams at Silver’s out in the Hamptons where we’ve spent many beachy summers.   (See The Great Hampton Babysitter Heist and Skinny Dipping)

We once asked them what makes Silver’s egg creams so rich and delicious.  They use cream instead of milk,  we were told,  and the heavier the better.

And it makes a better mustache too!

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Beverages
Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    Yum! I’ll have to try Danny’s recipe one day when we need some comfort.

  2. Dave Ventre says:

    It’s funny that the egg cream never even crossed the Hudson over to New Jersey.But we did get the Lon Guyland Ice Tea, so all is not lost.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Great story, and thanks for clarifying why it is called egg cream—and supplying the recipe besides. I have never seen this outside of New York, except for an eclipse chaser from NY who always celebrates after seeing a total solar eclipse with his homemade egg cream!

  4. Suzy says:

    Another great story, Dana. And thanks for giving us Danny’s recipe. I’ll definitely have to try it! I wonder if it would work with a nondairy milk substitute, for my lactose intolerant family members.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    Fun story, Dana. I knew all about egg creams — and I finally had one when I was in law school at Coulumbia. There was a soda counter/newspaper store right near the Columbia campus (Broadway and 114th, as I recall) named the Mill which was famous for them., so I knew this would be the real deal. It was, but I was underwhelmed and have rarely had any since. What can I say — other than the usual “de gustibus….”

    And I knew that there was no egg in egg creams. After having learned in college that Boston milk shakes did not have ice cream in them (you had to ask for a “frappe”), nothing surprised me.

  6. Marian says:

    Ahhh, egg creams, Dana. You’ve taken me back to my childhood. Where I lived now egg creams would be totally unknown, so thanks for this memory.

  7. Betsy Pfau says:

    Great story, Dana. I love that Danny taught the man behind the counter how to make an egg cream, then got it “on the house”. I confess, I’ve never had one (none made it to Detroit either) and I didn’t know there were no eggs in them. Now we all the recipe! Thanks.

  8. Thanks for the eggspert recipe! (sorry, but somehow had to do it!) YUM!!

  9. No egg creams in Boston that I know of. And when in an egg cream town I would shy away from them because I was worried about the raw egg which I assumed was part of the mix (I tend to be shy about everything in NYC), but now, thanks to your story and your husband’s careful recipe, I might try one. Although I might ask the counter person to hold the milk and hold the chocolate syrup, and put a piece of lime in the seltzer.

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