Let’s play a game.
I challenge you to visit your local Carvel or Dairy Queen, walk up to the teenager behind the cash register, and kindly request an egg cream.
With luck, the knowledgeable ice cream mixologist will blend together chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer in a tall glass, making sure to include the requisite one inch of thick, frothy foam.
However, it’s equally likely that you’ll be given a confused look and asked “what’s an egg cream?”
The age of soda fountains has passed. No longer can a thirsty patron stop by the counter found inside of his local pharmacy and request a cold beverage from the “soda jerk” on duty. Instead, we live in a time where our milkshakes are dispensed from machines, our ice cream is purchased from commercial chains, and “soda-jerking” is a dying art.
The disappearance of the soda fountain was a low point in the history of American food culture. Not only did we lose a unique, iconic medium for food service, but we lost our beloved egg cream.
…or did we?
Do not fret, thirsty citizens. Although the egg cream has become scarce, it’s still possible to find the sweet soda beverage when the cravings arise. You just have to know where to look.
This past week, I visited three locations in Monmouth County, each listing egg creams (both chocolate and vanilla varieties) on their menus. Armed with an empty stomach and a thirst for that beloved soda fountain staple, I began my egg cream expedition.
First, I visited P&P Sweet Shop at 487 Middle Road in Hazlet. While drinking my beverage at the counter, I chatted with proprietor Silvio Salas, who has owned P&P for fourteen years. The décor harkens back to the days of old; the store has been open for over forty years. Silvio spoke to me about the “New York Test,” which allegedly identifies a quality egg cream. Many egg cream aficionados believe that a good egg cream is characterized by the straw’s ability to stand perfectly straight in the middle of the glass, held up by the beverage’s thick foam. Interesting!
Thirsty patrons can drink their egg creams at the counter in Hazlet’s P&P Sweet Shop.>
Next, I stopped by Nancie’s Ice Cream & Cafe at 84 First Avenue in Atlantic Highlands, where I was served by friendly ice cream expert Tim Enny. Located right next door to Atlantic Cinemas, the quaint ice cream shop is the perfect place to visit for an after-movie dessert. As I drank my beverage, Tim explained to me the most important element of the egg cream making ritual.
Ice cream expert Tim Enny of Nancie’s Ice Cream & Cafe proudly presents an egg cream.>
“The most important part to the making of an egg cream is to add the seltzer and syrup first, then quickly add in the milk afterward,” said Tim. For him, it’s all about the order of ingredients.
My final stop was Nagle’s Apothecary Cafe at 43 Main Avenue in Ocean Grove. The restaurant, which was once an old-timey pharmacy, is decorated with vintage posters and knick-knacks that provide a glimpse into an era long gone. While I sipped my egg cream, I sat next to a set of shelves stocked with various medicine bottles, pill boxes, and other pharmacy equipment circa 1900s. Nagle’s has a remarkably nostalgic ambiance, the perfect environment for drinking an egg cream.
Nothing beats drinking an egg cream while taking in the nostalgic environment of Nagle’s Apothecary Cafe in Ocean Grove.>
And so, my thirst for egg creams has been satisfied…temporarily. Please note that the three aforementioned places are by no means the only locations to purchase an egg cream in Monmouth County. I encourage my thirsty readers to do some searching of their own, and let me know where else the classic soda fountain drink can be found! Feel free.