Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

A “Chocolate Phosphate”, or What My Jewish Mother Told Me in the Fifties…by Robert M. Katzman

When I was very young on the South Side of Chicago, my Mother, a daughter of immigrants from the Jewish Pale area of Eastern Europe where Jews were forced to live by the Czar, was addicted to this drink called a “chocolate phosphate”.

She ordered this delicacy in Jewish restaurants which was essentially ice cubes, chocolate syrup and carbonated seltzer water. The basic point, she explained to me, was to make her “greptz” or belch after a heavy meal.

Decades later when I began going to New York City in 1980 for book conventions, I naturally assumed this common Chicago beverage would be available anywhere in a city with the largest Jewish population in America. But no one heard of it, didn’t know what I was asking for and quickly conveyed the impatience and rudeness that NYC was also famous for. 

After some persistence, I learned from the then famed the 2nd Avenue delicatessen where the waiters yelled at you for no reason whatsoever, the best deli in America and (oh, indescribable pain!) now gone that a similar drink served there was called an “egg cream” and it cost a lot. I later learned that this drink was as common as dandelions in a summer field all over NYC and especially Brooklyn.

I make a variation of my Mother’s drink at home in Racine, where Jews are as rare here in Lutheran-Land as hen’s teeth, in a large glass filled with a dozen ice cubes, chocolate poured over the top of the ice and then 12 oz. of cold coke poured on top of that and stirred. Drink quickly. Greptzing may occur. Try it. Conversion isn’t necessary but the compulsion to find an actual genuine corned beef on rye with caroway seeds and a pickle might be a side effect.

If Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side of New York City ever moved to Racine, not only would they make a killing, but people all over the USA would suddenly discover what Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings alone have not been able to make possible. That Racine exists nestled close to the lake.

One more thing. Not that my Mother influenced me, but in February, 1969 when I was nineteen, I opened a kosher delicatessen in Hyde Park called “The Deli-Dali”. It was an immediate success, but, well, that’s another story which I printed in a two-volume autobiography I just published, and which despite my determined efforts is as big a secret here as a “chocolate phosphate” was in New York City 40 years ago. Go figure. Or read below. Shalom.


Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him! Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info. I will get your books to you within ten days. Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman Don’t Go Quietly Press PO Box 44287 Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $29.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

Shipping by air to most of Europe, due to the weight of my books is $99.00

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.  My hour-long story reading at WGTD 91.1 NPR Kenosha, Wis is now a podcast. The interview and story can be heard here:

Speaking of Our Words – June 30th, 2017 With special guest star and featured writer Bob Katzman. Bob reads his memoir, “Audrey, Pink Bunny Slippers, Her Cat and the God’s Eye” and talks about his w…   Your comments are welcome, below, and please tell others I can be found here as a writer. I can also be hired as a speaker for organizations, etc, both here and in Europe. Seeking an agent. robertmkatzman@gmail.com Poet & Storyteller for hire for organizations, schools or private events   www.DifferentSlants.com to view recent and older examples of my work

847.274.1474     Attachments area

Preview YouTube video Speaking of Our Words – June 30th, 2017

Speaking of Our Words – June 30th, 2017


Comment by Charlie Newman

July 14, 2018 @ 7:45 am

Good stuff, Bob, but…
I grew up in Newark and lived in NYC and phosphates were a fact of my life.
I’m thinking people must have figured you as a tourist or some such and decided to give you the high hat.

Comment by Bob

July 14, 2018 @ 7:53 am

I was treated like a Protestant. It was terrible!!

Comment by Brad Dechter

July 14, 2018 @ 8:14 am

I still try to get a chocolate phosphate when I eat at Katella Deli in Los Alamitos California. Though I live in Long Beach, Ca., there is not a single, real Jewish deli here. So I drive to Katella, about 20 miles away when I need my infusion of Matzah Ball soup, knishes, phosphates, Dr Browns’ diet cream soda, kishka, kreplach or to pick up my wife’s rye bread or my seedless rye bread. Because of the spoiling, I received having all those deli’s available on the south side when I was younger, I will always be partial to deli food.
Bob- I know you’ll appreciate this. When I was 14 and starving, I worked at Markons Deli (think it was Markons- owned by Mel Markon)at about 93rd and Jeffrey. They fired me because I was so hungry, I would take soup to the bus boy’s station and eat it/drink it there. They warned me a few times to stop, but when you’re starving, you have to eat. Because of that, they gave me my walking papers after a few weeks.
Nice folks, my bad.
But adding chocolate to a coke? Do you want diabetes?

Comment by Bob

July 14, 2018 @ 1:15 pm

No Brad, I don’t. Don’t think you’re alone. Same situation when I was 14 in my first job and it was little cartons of chocolate milk. Got caught, not fired, quit soon after and opened the newsstand. The chocolate addiction, however, remains.

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