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.
In the third and final article about Nineteenth Century Ice Cutting, I share some of the highlights of the history surrounding a Boston entrepreneur’s ice company, both domestic and foreign. Historic sources share insights and facts that make ice a pretty cool subject to study! See vintage images of ice cutters at work.
Nineteenth Century Ice Cutting, Part 2 (of 3): Staged as the adventures (and discoveries) of a boy in New England in the late 19th century, Lawrence’s Adventures, published in 1871 in Massachusetts, is instructive and entertaining. One of the chapters focuses wholly on the process of Ice-Cutting, and I share this now public domain content along with era-specific images showing the process. The information about how ice companies actually cut the ice from frozen lakes to provide Victorian America with the tons of ice demanded during the spring, summer, and autumn to sustain perishable food, chill beverages, transport perishable food via train, and aid the sick.
Old West Barber Shops used the traditional sign of the striped pole, advertised in newspapers, and usually hired men. Comparing for time passage and inflation, the low rates barbers charged then still seem ridiculously low. This is the first of many posts about Old West Barber Shops and Ladies Hair Salons.
Victorian Americans needed ice–for home use, through delivery businesses, on a commercial scale (to keep food from spoiling at the grocery and in railroad transportation). Ice houses were built all over the United States from the independent family’s ice house on their property to the enormous commercial Swift & Co. Ice House storing 60,000 tons annually. Ice harvesting occurred in January and February and kept in storage facilities until the following winter by applying ingenuity, science, and hard work. Men used saws, horse-drawn sleighs, and the strength of their own backs to harvest the cash crop each winter. This article contains vintage photographs, newspaper ads, and science info of the Victorian era.