IS IT A FLOAT, OR IS IT A SODA?
While the terms often are used interchangeably, sometimes a distinction is made. Technically, a soda is made with plain seltzer or soda water mixed with a flavored syrup. A float replaces plain soda with root beer, cola or another flavored soda. And now for the hard question: what is an egg cream? In my neck of the woods (New York City and environs) it contains neither eggs nor cream. An egg cream is basically a chocolate soda made with U-Bets chocolate syrup, a little milk and seltzer, preferably from a fountain so it develops lots of fizz.
By some reports, ice cream sodas were invented in 1874 at the Franklin Institute during Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition. A drug store clerk named Robert McCay Green ran out of ice for the flavored sodas he was selling from his fountain (he offered 16 different flavors of syrup!) and he decided instead to embellish the treats with ice cream from a neighboring stand. Today, sodas are only slightly more complicated to make:
- Chill your glasses in the freezer.
- Put 3 tablespoons of syrup in the bottom of each glass, add 2 tablespoons of milk or half and half (this is optional), then add soda water ¾ of the way up the side of the glass (if you add more, the glass will overflow when the ice cream goes in).
- Add 2 to 3 scoops ice cream and stir gently. Top, if you like, with whipped cream, a cherry or sprinkles, and serve with a straw and a long handled spoon.
Mr. Green, by the way, was so proud of the sensation his invention created that he had “The Originator of the Ice Cream Soda” carved on his tombstone.