Soda Shops

During the late 1880s, having a fizzy carbonated water drink became quite popular. When Coca-Cola began in 1886 by an Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton, he created a distinctive tasting soft drink sold in pharmacies (for one’s health) and in apothecaries (a form of a drug store). By the beginning of the 1900s, a separate section in a pharmacy was set up – a soda shop, with marble counters, seating and a good supply of soda to drink. The soda shop, also known as a malt shop, was a good replacement for a saloon with no alcohol. Many became quite decorative and ornate in the décor.

A variety of soda drinks were developed such as ginger ale, root beer, floats, and milkshakes. With the growing movement of Prohibition in the 1910s and then by 1920 when it was law, the soda shop became even more popular. When jukeboxes for music became available by the 1930s – 1950s, that was added to the soda shop. The person making the favored drinks or ice creams favorites was known as a soda jerk would add carbonated water and phosphate to the syrup to make a unique beverage.

However, things changed over time and eventually by the 1970s ice cream parlors and especially fast food places took over and fewer soda shops existed.

Photo: A 1950s soda shop counter and seats.

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