Sometimes it’s the details.

Forgive me if this starts strangely, but I promise: I’ll get there.

For the last several years I’ve been interested in exploring somewhat esoteric soda fountain drinks. I know, but it’s a hobby.

Anyway. The most recent drink to have caught my view has been the Egg Cream Soda- which has peaked my interest since I learned it contains neither egg nor cream. Instead, you start by making a fairly small amount of chocolate milk. Specifically, the chocolate sauce must be Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup and whole milk. Once mixed, you top the majority of the glass with seltzer. It develops an impressive, frothy and creamy head, and is far better than I would have ever thought. I’ve no idea why these ever fell out of favor, but boy am I hooked.

As is my custom, once I got the hang of the original version, I began to branch out. I tried a vanilla Egg Cream (don’t). I tried using half & half for the “milk” (do!). Eventually, with all my experimenting, I ran out of Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup. I bought a bottle of Hershey’s and moved on. But something was wrong. The drink wasn’t as good as before. It took me a bit- I kept thinking that I was missing something or prepping things differently. I thought I was messing with the proportions too much. That I had blown it.

But it was the chocolate syrup. The brand really did matter- the results using the original are far superior to any variation I’d made. Which got me thinking. Sometimes, the specific details are what make something exceptional. Sometimes, in the rush to make things easier or “better” or more straightforward, we lose the detail that allows the finished product to really shine.

All this made me think about education and the classroom. I’ve always sweat the details in the classroom- the setup of the desks, the position of the whiteboard. The sound system. The typeface on the handout. The resolution of the video file to be played. And, I think, the odd story of the Egg Cream exemplifies this: the details are what allows the product to be so much more than the sum of it’s parts.