In a food environment curated with giant ice cubes, elevated toasts, deconstructed coffee and a side of chlorophyll, there is something utterly refreshing about grabbing a plastic squeeze bottle filled with grocery store chocolate, an inch of milk, and a big pour of seltzer. Yup, I am talking about that relic of a drink, the egg-cream, and u-betcha, I am talking about Fox's U-bet chocolate syrup.
Fox's U-bet was probably in the refrigerator of your childhood home... (And it's probably still in there) and while, yes, if offered a choice, I would possibly (almost certainly) rather a chocolate milkshake from Sweet Rose Creamery or something weird and fermented and cheffy from Salt & Straw, there still exists the quiet nostalgic occasion that demands a squirt of U-bet.
Fox's U-bet has been in business for 117 years, and was founded by Herman Fox. Apparently, Herman spent some time in Texas, and while there, picked up the slang "You bet!" which became his go-to answer when anyone asked him anything. Something tells me ol' Herman Fox would have been a keen texter. He was way ahead of the rest of us with the "u" stepping in for "you".
So, somehow, the egg-cream was born, a delicious drink made entirely without eggs and without cream. Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of die-hard egg-cream enthusiasts out there- and according to many of them, there is a real right and a real wrong way to construct the drink: Seltzer goes in first vs Seltzer goes in last, long necked spoon vs stick blender, etc. Shit gets real with most of these Egg Cream believers...but most seem to agree on U-bets.
Read about U-bets, and a bunch of other iconic food things and people in Ina Yalof's book, Food and the City.
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