Amazing Retro Soda Fountains Across America

So what happened to those soda fountains of old?
06/14/2014 01:07pm ET | Updated August 15, 2014
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Did you know that before soda was a national bad habit, it was meant to be a health drink? The soda fountain was invented in an attempt to recreate mineral waters that bubbled up from the Earth. Many European and Asian civilizations believed that these waters contained curative properties, so in an attempt to capitalize on the supposed medicinal effects of fizzy water, eighteenth-century scientists invented a machine to inject carbon dioxide into still water, causing it to fizz like the bubbling natural mineral baths patients flocked to for their health.

By the late 1800s, most people no longer believed that the key to health was bubbly water, but the soda fountain and the sugary mixtures soda jerks were serving up throughout America had already taken hold.

Aglamesis Bro’s, Cincinnati
The Aglamesis family has been making and selling ice cream to Cincinnati since 1908. You can still stop by their Oakley Square location for some striped awning, black and white tile, two-scoop goodness. Click Here to see More Amazing Retro Soda Fountains Across AmericaPhoto Credit: © Flickr / 5chw4r7z
Clinton’s Soda Fountain, Columbus, Mo.
Though Clinton’s has only been in operation since 1988, the building that houses the soda fountain is over a hundred years old. In fact, a young Harry Truman once jerked soda in this very building. Stop in, order a phosphate, and see if it tastes presidential. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Missouri Division of Tourism
Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, South Pasadena, Calif.
This corner pharmacy was a staple along America’s iconic Route 66. The menu is packed with old-timey treats, from handmade shakes to Lime and Cherry Rickeys as well as pages of ice cream treats. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Paul NarvaezClick Here to see More Amazing Retro Soda Fountains Across America
Toomer’s Drugs, Auburn, Ala.
At Toomer’s you won’t find cutesy, touristy soda fountain traditions. An Auburn staple since 1896, Toomer’s is its own tradition, and its shakes, sandwiches (grilled pimento cheese? Yes,please!), and house-made lemonade speak for themselves. Photo Credit: © Flickr / jayne vidheecharoen
Lagomarcino’s, Moline, Ill.
For nearly 100 years, four generations of Lagomarcinos have made chocolate and served up sodas in this Illinois institution. Visitors can enjoy their signature Lago drink (similar to a Dr. Pepper, according to their website) in the store’s original mahogany booths or at the authentic soda fountain counter. Click Here to see More Amazing Retro Soda Fountains Across AmericaPhoto Credit: © Flickr / matt northam

For a time, no town was without a soda fountain complete with egg creams (milk and soda water with flavoring), phosphates (soda water with fruit flavoring) and banana splits. Soda fountains were often found in drug stores, perhaps harkening back to their past as medicinal beverages.

In the early twentieth century American landscape, soda fountains served as more than snack shops. They were oftentimes the heart of the town, where people came together to date, gossip and act as a community. They will forever be remembered be as the friendly, striped-awning symbols of a more innocent America.

So what happened to those soda fountains of old? The places where, for nearly 100 years, Americans slurped soda, scooped ice cream, fell in love and swapped gossip?

Unfortunately, self-service pharmacies brought about the end of the American soda fountain as most people knew it. However, some of these important pieces of Americana still exist if you know where to look.

-Emily Alford, The Daily Meal

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