June means that summer has come and that always puts me in mind of the the old-fashioned soda fountain! Now, if you are like me, you think of the 1940’s or ’50s soda fountain with a jukebox, chrome countertops, red vinyl seats and a soda jerk (or waiter) ready to take your order.
But the history of the soda fountain actually starts much sooner. “Soda water” had been around for hundreds of years and was used as a health aid. “Soda water” or carbonated mineral water was first introduced here in America by a man named John Matthews from New York. The Victorians had soda fountains where large, ornate glass siphon bottles full of the soda water were offered. Most soda fountains actually started out as pharmacies since “soda water” was thought of as a medicinal drink. The soda water was also used to mix up medicines.
Soda fountains began to evolve and pick up in popularity in the 1920s. During Prohibition, soda fountains were where you went for a (supposedly) non-alcoholic drink.
By mid-century, soda fountains had broken away from the pharmacy. Now they were much more likely to strictly offer food and drinks in a fun, family friendly atmosphere.
If you would like to read more about the history of the soda fountain (and try out some delicious recipes!), I recommend this excellent book!