Thursday, February 2, 2006

Chocolate What?

Foodgoat & I finally ventured into Jack's Deli, a longstanding family-owned "corned beef haven" just down the street, and which always seems full (even on an early weekday night). Jack's reminded me of the little deli we went to in Las Vegas, which was meant to remind me of traditional, old-style New York neighborhood deli. The menu was huge and filled with odd (at least to me) dishes like chopped liver, gelite fish, and bagels for dinner.

And lots of corned beef. To Foodgoat's chagrin, corned beef to me is crumbly and comes out of a can. He'd like to banish the image of my family and I happily eating a big dish of canned corn beef and cabbage right in front of him, but it's burned into his brain for eternity.

But at Jack's Deli, of course, corned beef looks like thinly sliced pieces of meat. Thinly sliced pieces of meat (6 inches) piled up high on top of my two potato pancakes (1 inch). Served with sour cream (Good) AND applesauce (good but unexpected).

But what really surprised me at Jack's was my drink. I ordered a Chocolate Phosphate because I had never heard of it and because I wanted to order a drink that sounds like it belongs in a chemistry lab.

I got a soda glass filled with dark brown liquid and bubbles on top that resembled the surface of the brain. Mmm!

Apparently, chocolate phosphates are a regional thing - perhaps even a just local Cleveland thing.

A phosphate is a carbonated drink, made from carbonated soda water, flavored syrups and phosphoric acid, an ingredient still used today in many brands of soda (or pop, if you really insist on calling it that). Soda jerks kept the phosphate in a shaker bottle (like hot sauce or worchestershire) and added a few drops to each drink.

The first sip: freaky bizarre. A little too bubbly. I felt like chocolate powder and water was going up my nose, and that's not tasty.

The second sip: better. Like watery chocolate milk, without the creamy taste and texture of milk. The chocolate powder still didn't feel fully mixed in though.

The third sip: Foodgoat suggested putting in the ice that the waitress left for it. I dropped it in, swirled it around and sipped. A ha! Much better. Chocolatey! Refreshing! Phosphatey!

The conclusion: I like chocolate, but I'm not so fond of the chocolate phosphate. Not so much because of the taste, though, but the texture. But chocolate to me should be rich and creamy, not watery and bubbly. In the phosphate, chocolate just doesn't match.


  1. Anonymous5:55 PM

    Chocolate phosphates are not a regional or local thing. They are common at many jewish deli. They are often made with seltzer water (carbonated water) & chocolate syrup in a glass with ice. I suspect they are simply a variant of an new york egg cream (which actually uses milk (not cream)) since for those who keep kosher, they can't have milk at a meal with corned beef.

  2. Anonymous7:59 AM

    I grew up in Pittsburgh and am not Jewish. The local drugstore had a soda counter and served Chocolate and Cherry Phosphates on a very regular basis for only 10 cents. That was a very long time ago.

  3. Anonymous2:38 PM

    My dad, who grew up Jewish in pre-WW2 Chicago, introduced me to the weirdness which is the Chocolate Phosphate. I could never decide if I liked it or not; the flavor of chocolate unaccompanied, as it was, by its usual friend creaminess always seemed strange.

  4. Anonymous2:43 PM

    Incidentally, Dr. Pepper is currently offering a “Limited Edition” titled “Diet Dr. Peppper Cherry Chocolate” which, strangely enough, tastes much more like a Chocolate Phosphate than a Dr. Pepper or anything cherry.

  5. Anonymous3:05 PM

    I grew up in Cleveland in a predominantly jewish and italian neighborhood. Our local "soda fountain" (Weinstein's) made yummy chocolate phosphates (fountain seltzer and chocolate syrup). A treat of the past.

  6. Anonymous7:18 PM

    I don't think they're local... I get them all the time in Atlantic City

  7. Anonymous2:19 PM

    A chocolate phosphate was the after-school treat for my friends and me after school each day (late 50s) at Mitch's -- the local drug store/soda fountain at Montrose and Kedzie in Chicago.

  8. Bruce Brooker2:13 PM

    In Canada, soft drinks are called POP. Soda water is SODA...get it? We call Soda SODA, and soft drinks POP. Are yu this stuff "before your time"? Tell me again that you were not familiar with Chocolate Phosphates...they've been around for about a century, kid.

  9. Anonymous6:04 PM

    I had lunch at Jack's Deli yesterday and noticed someone drinking what I remembered to be a chocolate phosphate, hadn'd heard of or seen one since my high school days of over sixty years ago. We used to get them at a Jewish Deli near my high school. When I asked about them the waitress brought me one to sample. It was nostalgic, I assumed it was a deli thing.

  10. Anonymous3:29 PM

    Chocolate Phosphates are delicious, you should go to Corky & Lenny's and get one. Chocolatey, yet refreshing...a chocolate soda! They are best drunk with a straw.

  11. Phosphoric acid in sodas nearly as damaging to teeth as battery
    Apr 5, 2007 – According to a report published in the March / April edition of General Dentistry, phosphoric acid in soda causes tooth enamel erosion, even ...

    1. Anonymous6:21 PM

      Thanks for sharing useless info that everyone already knows. That's why you consume things in moderation...

  12. Another memory of chocolate phosphate at the Benjamin Franklin soda fountain after school, late fifties to early sixties on Lee Rd in Cleveland! Hi guys!22