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The Original Cream Soda Recipe Was Extremely Off-Putting

Cream soda falls into the category of old-fashioned, nostalgic sodas that symbolize a simpler time when life moved at a slower pace. But, when you hear the list of ingredients the first cream soda contained, you likely won't be feeling so nostalgic.

"Creamy" and "vanilla" may be the two words most commonly associated with the taste of cream soda, but it's hard to image that the first iteration of the classic tasted like either of them. Created by E.M. Sheldon in the mid-1800s, the first version of cream soda didn't contain any vanilla, and instead of cream included both milk and eggs. Some of the other ingredients listed for Sheldon's cream soda are even bigger head-scratchers: cream of tartar and Epsom salts, as well as sugar and tartaric acid. So how did this soda come to be known as "cream soda," and why would anyone have wanted to enjoy an ice-cold glass of it?

An evolving recipe

Eggs may sound like an unusual ingredient for soda, but in fact, some early carbonated beverages were made with egg whites. Hot egg drinks (think eggnog) were also popular at soda fountains during winter months when sales of cold beverages like phosphates dropped off. The cream of tartar in the soda might be explained as a way to stabilize the whipped egg whites, and the white powder would have helped keep the flavor syrup from crystalizing. It has also been theorized that the cream of tartar may have resulted in the soda being named "cream" soda. 

While Epsom salts are most commonly thought of as a bath additive to ease muscle aches or bug bites, it can be consumed, although it isn't generally advisable. Not really a salt, but a mineral that is high in magnesium, Epsom salts have a bitter taste and can be used as a home remedy for constipation. Not feeling like pouring yourself a glass of cream soda? The good news is that the recipe evolved and nowadays, makers of the soda in the United States add vanilla flavor, which gives the impression of creaminess. So go ahead and drink that old-timey soda, but remember to be thankful that it has been modernized a bit.