Soda Jerks History in Atlanta

Beverage Business (1886)

These old newspaper articles about soda fountain provide a glimpse into the period and city they were written. This article comes from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver circa 1886. Reporters would just report on the happening of the local soda fountain and the new drinks being served. Cocaine, again, makes an entrance to a new city via the soda fountain, as does Lactart.

I do like the writing style of this time period as it is conversational. It doesn’t try to shock or offend but simply reports on the things that are happening.

The Increasing Business at the Drug Store Soda Fountain

A large Number of New Drinks of Mineral Waters and Acids

Summer drinks are now in great demand. The hot weather has made the great demand for cool drinks almost as great as in mid-summer, and the drugstores, confectionery stores and lemonade stands are already doing a good business in beverages. Each summer tho kinds of drinks are being multiplied, and today the average drugstore proprietor, with a soda fountain, can compete with the largest bar in the city in a diversity of drinks. It was not long ago that the small lemonade stand on the street corner could with his three or four kinds of beverages offer to the thirsty as many tempting drinks as could his competitor in the drug store, though not in so stylish a manner. Today, however, the thing is changed, and the lemonade dealer who does business on a small capital and behind a small box can not furnish but a very small portion of all the temperance drinks that are found at the apothecary shop, and the latter seems to have a monopoly of the temperance drink business in the West. In the East there are temperance saloons, whose only business is dealing in temperance drinks and the number and variety of these drinks found in such places are bewildering.

Denver druggists, however, are fast approaching the magnitude of this business in the large Eastern cities. Their beautiful soda fountains, with their nearly two dozen kinds of syrups, which were thought not long ago to contain about all that was desirable for a summer drink, are now only a small part of the business. To the syrups and soda were added three or four kinds of mineral water of national reputation, and tea and coffee and cream were added to the beverages furnished. Pretty soon acid phosphate and ice cream soda were introduced and commanded quite a sale, and root beers were given quite a share of patronage. In the past two summers, the additions to the drinks found at the soda fountains have been quite numerous, and recent additions have been the result of some genius. Vichy and Seltzer have been mostly in demand recently by lovers of mineral waters. Deep Rock is a now mineral water coming into favor. It comes from Oswego, N. Y„ and is quite similar to Congress water. Acid Phosphate has been having quite a run, but its trade is being cut in on by new acids which have made their appearance. The latest acid introduced is the acid of milk called Lactart. A teaspoon full of Lactart in a glass of sweet milk makes a drink very much like buttermilk. Sweet milk is now used with soda the same as syrups and makes a very pleasant drink. A large portion of the drink is milk. This is an English drink, and is used a great deal as a summer beverage in Europe. There is also a Lactart syrup, which with soda makes a drink which quenches the thirst better than the ordinary syrups and soda. Moxie, the nerve food, has become a very popular drink and is used straight and with soda.

Coca phosphate, a phosphate and coca leaf, is a most excellent adjunct to a soda drink. It is new this year as is also Lactart. An extract of Jersey crab apple is a new addition to the side bar of the soda stand. Used with soda, as a syrup, it makes a nice hard cider drink. These are but a few of the numerous temperance drinks that have lately been introduced for summer beverages. There is enough to satisfy the most diverse tastes and a person who desires to quench his thirst should find enough to satisfy him without going past a soda fountain in a drug store to a whisky saloon or rum shop, and many men find it so. Indeed the temperance drinks are making quite an impression on the whisky and beer business in the summer time at least. This is noticeable more in the large Eastern cities, however, than here, though the temperance drinks are commanding a large business even in Denver.

Rocky Mountain News, Denver Colorado May 30, 1886

Further Reading: The Genesis of Tequila’s Bad Name?