Several well-known eclipse chasers solemnly observe a tradition that they trace back to their childhood roots in the Big Apple. Many people who've never been to NYC won't have heard of
the "Chocolate Egg Cream", but here's hoping that will change.
While many choose to celebrate the experience of totality with a Corona beer, a non-alcoholic drink is the choice of quite a number of die-hard eclipse "chasers". The Chocolate Egg Cream has no eggs in it at all - it's a simple drink, using only Milk, Chocolate Syrup, and Seltzer water, and requiring a very specific vessel to properly contain - and then bestow - its delectable yumminess unto all who wish to enhance their festive, post-eclipse euphoria.
So you've got me on tap for egg creams. Most people tap me for astronomy, but I'm happy to talk about egg creams!
Why yes! I hope you'll think of it as the highest form of compliment!
I have a fairly good recollection of the origin, but it's not precise - I don't know exactly when it happened. I do know that celebrating the observation of a solar eclipse, most people do with champagne. And sometime in the early 1970s, and it may have been the eclipse in 1974 in Australia, and for some reason we decided to celebrate with an egg cream. And there were a number of other people with us at the time, and that may have been when it started, but it may have actually started prior to that - it could have been the 1973 eclipse. But the origin is definitely sort of '73, '74 eclipse. And once we had done that, for some reason it caught on with eclipse chasers. It's a local soda fountain drink that originated in New York, and there were a bunch of us who just for some reason started doing it, and it sort of became the tradition wherever we went.
You can't have a real egg cream unless you use a specific brand of chocolate syrup; it's manufactured in New York. It's Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup, and you can't really buy it all over the world, so we ended up bringing chocolate syrup with us. And it just became kind of a tradition, and it had spread. You know, it's a fun kind of a drink, and people like it, and we've introduced it - when I say "we", it's not like we're out there proselytizing egg creams, it's just something we celebrate with and bring it with us for folks, after eclipses.
In 1999, we again were seeing an eclipse - it was from the Black Sea, it was actually on a cruise ship. And prior to that, we'd a couple of times been in contact with H. Fox & Co. - that makes this chocolate syrup - about how this has become a tradition amongst at least a subset of eclipse chasers. And Craig had mentioned to them that we were going on this cruise, and would be making egg creams for people after the eclipse. And they said, oh, they would send him some, and ended up shipping I don't remember how many cases of Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup, but enough for like all 600 passengers on board. And I remember Craig's stateroom just being filled with boxes of jars of chocolate syrup!
I can see it now - all over the cruise ship, the fountains that normally serve punch would be converted to showering the guests with egg creams!!
I had let them know that their factory was gonna be in the path of the 2079 eclipse, and we had a dialogue back then letting them know that my progeny would be coming - descending on their factory to celebrate on their roof and watch the eclipse in the year 2079.
And I also buried a jar of Fox's U-Bet at the South Pole, when I was working down there in the mid-1980s. That was the first year I was down. There was gonna be a total solar eclipse off the Antarctic coast - I was hoping to find a way to get there - and that turned out to be one of these very rare eclipses that nobody could actually get to. But, I had a jar of Fox's U-Bet, because I was working there and of course I wanted to have a real egg cream in the Antarctic. And [I] buried it, and then, oh I don't know - um, in a few tens of thousands of years, as the snow and ice migrate over the plateau, it'll probably break off and sail its way away from the Antarctic at some point. So there's a free bottle of Fox's U-Bet waiting there for somebody.
I don't think we're gonna be able to top that one!
Well, we've come to the end of our roundtable. In the final segment, we'll say good-bye to each of our participants...