This week I’m taking a break from restaurant reviews to bring back my recurring Grocery Grails feature, where I review and recommend some of my favorite food products you can buy at supermarkets and grocery stores. In the past, I’ve reviewed pickles and ramen noodles in order to highlight the best store-bought varieties I’ve ever found, as well as all kinds of potato chips under the Tight Chips banner, reviewed sardines in features called The ‘Dines List, and mustards in a recurring segment called Cutting the Mustard. Stay tuned for more of those, sharp-eyed Saboscrivnerinos, but today we’re going to cool things down with something a little different.
Have you ever eaten too much, or too much of the wrong things? I have. Sometimes you get that feeling where you’re too full and bloated, or you’re an anhedonic altacocker like me and suffer from a bit of acid reflux. In that case, allow me to recommend the perfect solution for your indigestion: an egg cream! You’ve probably heard of these delightful, deli-derived digestive drinks before, and I’ve even mentioned them in some of my past reviews. An egg cream contains neither eggs nor cream, but three perfect ingredients to help you feel better after a heavy meal, and to leave a sweet, creamy, refreshing taste in your mouth: seltzer water, milk, and a flavored syrup. And folks, if you make your egg creams with anything but Fox’s U-Bet Syrups, you’re not living right!
Fox’s is one of those beloved, old-school New Yawk products that is harder to find these days, and costs a little more, but is totally worth every penny. Founded in Brooklyn in 1895 by H. Fox & Company, the Fox’s U-Bet brand is now owned by the Gold’s Horseradish company. They do not contain high fructose corn syrup, unlike many comparable brands, and they are kosher for Passover. The thick, rich chocolate syrup with the yellow label is the standard for egg creams, but I would strongly recommend it for any of your chocolate syrup needs: making chocolate milk, hot chocolate, ice cream sundaes, milkshakes, or anything else. It tastes better than any other chocolate syrups, and definitely any powder mixes I’ve ever tried.Personally, I like the U-Bet vanilla and coffee syrups even more than the chocolate, which speaks volumes about how good they are. Both of these are thinner than the thick, sticky chocolate syrup, but they are so good. They are harder to find around here, though. I found the coffee syrup once at a “bougier” Publix than my normal location, and last fall, I was lucky enough to find some vanilla U-Bet bottles marked down for clearance after Yom Kippur at another swankier Publix, so I grabbed them all. Pickles Delicatessen in Longwood also sells the chocolate and vanilla syrups.
With any of the three, squirt some U-Bet syrup into a tall glass, fill it about halfway with the milk of your choice and stir well, making sure it doesn’t all stick to the bottom and sides of your glass. Fill the rest with seltzer, stir some more, and enjoy an effervescent, foamy, sweet, creamy, classic beverage that goes so well at the end of any meal as both a dessert and a digestive aid.
Our plastic glasses have seen better days, after going through the dishwasher for 13 years, but here’s one of the many vanilla egg creams I’ve made to relax after work. Hey, as a non-drinker, I take my simple pleasures where I can find them.
Last year I discovered a game-changing new product that completely changed my egg cream game, and it can change yours too. The Polar brand makes several calorie-free flavored seltzers with all-natural ingredients, no sugar, and no gross artificial sweeteners added. Sprouts Farmers Market grocery stores in Orlando and Oviedo (but interestingly, not Winter Park) sell a toasted coconut flavor of Polar seltzer that is absolutely delicious on its own, but elevates chocolate, vanilla, or coffee-flavored egg creams to the next level. Think about how good a toasted coconut flavor would be when combined with any of those flavors, but especially my absolute favorite, the vanilla. Combine that with 1% or 2% milk (which still taste so luxurious to me, after growing up in a house with skim milk, or vaguely milk-flavored water), and your egg cream will taste so much richer and more decadent than it really is. I buy every bottle of Polar toasted coconut seltzer on the shelf every time I see them at Sprouts, just so we never run out!
Last year, a really good friend visited Rhode Island and brought me back this huge bottle of Autocrat coffee syrup, completely unknown here in Florida, but a standard shelf staple in Rhode Island, where everyone drinks “coffee milk.” (Yes, it’s essentially the same thing as chocolate milk, just made with coffee syrup. And I knew about it because I am obsessed with regional foods, especially anything I can’t easily find around here.) I despise autocrats in real life, and there are far too many of them these days with too much power and control, but I sure did like the coffee syrup named after them.I almost never drink coffee due to the aforementioned acid reflux, but I like the taste of a sweet, creamy, chilled, coffee-flavored beverage. Naturally, I enjoyed comparing it to the Fox’s U-Bet coffee syrup and using it in some coffee egg creams with plain and toasted coconut seltzer. I decided the Autocrat works great for coffee milk, but nothing can touch the flavors of the Fox’s U-Bet products for egg creams.
If you read through this review and still have no idea what I’m talking about, treat yourself to a bottle of Fox’s or find a deli or a bagel shop willing to mix you up an egg cream. You’re not gonna regret this!