Behind the 19th century soda fountain counter, “baristas” known as Dispensers or Soda Men, knew a tremendous amount about customer service, the making of an ever-growing list of beverages, and the care and use of operating the soda apparatus. While other trained men mixed syrups, compounded recipes for everything from soda water to flavorings to syrups, and cleaned and repaired the machines, this article focuses on the Soda Men and their key role in the success of a Victorian-American Soda Fountain. This post is filled with primary-source recipes, tips for excellent customer service, and instructions to properly pour a soda water or ice cream soda.
The Soda Fountain was a hallmark of late Victorian-era United States culture. Numerous patents and patent renewals show the developments in technology–just how complicated and how effectively simple the designs were. Vintage newspaper articles explain Europe’s reaction to Dows’ Soda Fountain in the American Restaurant at Paris’s Universal Exhibition. Soda fountains have come a long way!
111 years ago today, April 18, 1906, an earthquake with a magnitude (estimated) of 7.8 destroyed much of San Francisco. Charles River Editors did a fine job covering this tremendous natural disaster in a brief, concise, instructive manner. See my five-star review.
A vintage newspaper article from 1897 retells the harrowing experience of Sharkey, owner of the Copper Queen Mine outside Salmon, Idaho–a shootout, Old-West style–between himself and a 6-foot rattler.
The decade of the 1880s proved among the most disastrous, desperate, life-threatening (and life-taking)–as winter in North America was at an extreme, the whole decade long. Climatologists have theories we understand today, but were unknown to our Victorian American ancestors. If you read a fictional book set in the 1880s, that touches on a mild winter, be surprised. Today, March 11th, is the anniversary of “the big one”.