You might not know it, but Brooklyn has been home to some of the finest artisanal and tradition chocolate in the world. There’s been a veritable chocolate movement in Brooklyn since early 2000. That’s why we started the Brooklyn Chocolate Tour where you get to sample chocolate from four of the most exclusive chocolatiers in Brooklyn as well as visit some of Brooklyn’s incredible neighborhoods.
But Brooklyn has had quite a history when it comes to chocolate that started way before the year 2000. See below for some of the most delicious, and interesting, chocolates that were created in Brooklyn.
Chocolate Egg Cream
If you’re not from the East Coast then you might not know about the chocolate egg cream which is one of Brooklyn’s most famous treats. The delicious drink is made with whole milk, seltzer and Fox’s U-bet syrup. Back in the 1950s, all you needed was an egg cream and two straws and that was a date!
Fox’s U-bet was the ONLY chocolate syrup used in a chocolate egg cream. It’s been made in Brooklyn since the early 1900s and it contains real cocoa and dry milk in its recipe. The result is a dark, heavy chocolate flavor that permeates the whole fizzy concoction.
There is some controversy over where the egg cream was invented, but the most popular story is that it was invented during the 1880s by a candy shop owner in Brooklyn named Louis Auster. Rumor has it he sold 3000 egg creams a day and they only cost 3 cents each.
“A candy store minus an Egg Cream, in Brooklyn at least, was as difficult to conceive of as the Earth without gravity.” – author Elliot Willensky
The Tootsie Roll was invented by Austrian Leo Hirschfeld who settled in Brooklyn in 1884. Leo was a candy maker back in his homeland, so naturally he opened a candy shop in Brooklyn. Leo would walk home from work and on many occasions his daughter Clara would run up to him and say, “Daddy, make me some chocolate candy”, so he he gave it a shot. He used what he could find in his house: sugar, cocoa, butter, etc. Soon word spread about the candy he made at home and neighborhood kids wanted some too. He realized he should be selling them at his store for a penny a piece. He wanted to create a candy that was in a wrapper, so it needed a name for it. Then he remembered what he’d say to Clara when she’d ask for candy, “Yes my little Tootsie, I’ll make you some chocolate candy”.
It might seem strange to include a laxative on a list of the history of chocolate in Brooklyn, but keep reading! In 1906 Hungarian pharmacist Max Kiss invented Ex-Lax. He and his business partner Israel Kats knew that the key to making the “Excellent Laxative” a success would be that it taste good. So they decided to make it taste like chocolate. And boy was that the right decision! Ex-Lax, advertised as “the chocolated laxative” became the most popular laxative in the United States. It was even made to look like a chocolate bar. Their factory was on Atlantic Avenue in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. The factory closed in the 1960s, and in 1979 it was turned into a residential building.
Ebinger’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake
Never heard of Ebinger’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake? All we can say is, “We’re sorry”. The Brooklyn Blackout Cake was a chocolate cake filled with pudding and cake crumbs and frosted with chocolate icing.
George and Catherine Ebinger opened their sweets shop the same year Brooklyn was annexed into New York City, 1898, but the Blackout Cake wasn’t invented until WWII. It was named after the mandatory blackouts to protect Brooklyn Navy Yard. Ebinger’s Bakeries were everywhere! Put it like this, if you lived in Brooklyn you could probably walk to one. In spite of the cake’s cult like following, Ebinger’s went bankrupt in 1972. There is good news though, you can try a similar cake on at The Chocolate Room during our Chocolate Tour of Brooklyn.
Barton’s Kosher Chocolates
Stephen Klein came to New York from Vienna in 1938 and immediately started his chocolate company. Barton’s, and was an immediate success.
The chocolate was sourced from Switzerland and then shipped to New York. It was then processed in one of its three Brooklyn facilities, one of which was on DeKalb Avenue. By the 1950s, Barton’s was a force to be reckoned with. In 1952, a writer for Commentary magazine described the facilities as “the most highly mechanized plant of its kind in America.”
In the late 1950s and 1960s Barton’s had over 70 franchises around the country, most in New York. And although many people of different culture loved Barton’s, they prided themselves on being a Jewish company that sold Kosher chocolates. They had an Orthodox Union certification until they closed in March 31, 2009. Families all over the country have fond memories of enjoying Barton’s Chocolates on Passover. And while their stores closed, you can still find them in certain stores and online.
Can’t get enough of chocolate and Brooklyn? Then satisfy your sweet tooth on our Chocolate Tour!