With the summer solstice arriving today, let us contemplate one of summertime’s favorite heat-quenching beverages. June 20th is Ice Cream Soda Day.

The ice cream soda, sometimes called an ice cream float, was invented by Robert McCay Green in 1874 in Philadelphia. According to the leading theory, that “serendipity is the mother of invention,” the creation of the ice cream soda, was certainly fortuitous. Mr. Green’s inventory of ice was depleted as he was selling cold fountain drinks on a hot day. He asked to use some ice cream from a neighboring vendor to chill his beverage. The rest, as they say, is history. However, in a self-authored account appearing in a 1910 edition of Soda Fountain Magazine, Mr. Green disputed that account. He wrote that he wanted to stand out above the other vendors and aimed to create a superior cold drink. Mr. Green requested that his tombstone read, “Originator of the Ice Cream Soda.”

Those growing up in New York City may be familiar with a similar drink whose mere name will make mouths water: the “Egg Cream.” Those unfamiliar, may be gagging, thinking about a drink with raw eggs in it. Don’t worry: egg creams contain no eggs, or cream. An egg cream consisted of milk, seltzer and flavored syrup (usually vanilla or chocolate). Most assume that this drink originated with the Eastern European immigrant Jewish community of New York City.

Why then was the mouth-watering drink called an egg cream? According to the grandson of the alleged inventor, Stanley Auster, no one is sure where the name came from. But, it is likely that the heavily accented English of the immigrants played a role. Auster suggested that the word egg was really the Yiddish term “echt,” meaning genuine or real. Another suggested origin for the term is that someone requested “chocolat et crème,” a drink enjoyed in Paris, and the French “et crème” morphed into “egg cream.” Legend claims it was the celebrated Yiddish Theatre star, Boris Tomashefsky, who requested the Parisian delicacy. A food expert, Andrew Smith, however, claims that in some poorer neighborhoods, a drink made from syrup, cream, seltzer and yes – raw eggs – was popular. Eventually, Smith posits, a less expensive version of this “egg cream” was made, without the cream and eggs.

Happy Summer everyone!

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