A match made at the Soda Fountain…
ice cream and soda

For more than 100 years the soda fountains in American pharmacies were meeting places for many, young and old. Drug store patrons would perch on revolving stools at long counters eating ice cream and sipping carbonated beverages through a straw. Soda fountain parlors, as they were often called, became part of American culture. By 1875, there was a soda fountain parlor in almost every city across America. (Explore the fascinating world of the early American drugstore on the extraordinary website of the Soderlund Drugstore Museum.) 

For 50 years the Liquid Carbonic Company put the fizz and the fruit flavors in the soda—supplying drug stores with carbon dioxide and equipment related to soda fountains and soft drink bottling.

When the bottled soft drink market expanded,
Liquid Carbonic developed coolers which they advertised like this…

Liquid Carbonic company advertisement for soda fountain cooler

This summer—Serve COLD Bottles
Every 3 Seconds, This New Way.

 Push a warm bottle IN and OUT comes a Cold one

The principle is explained at the top of the advertisement in the cutaway illustration on the left. The room-temperature bottles are racked above the ice-filled chest below. The chest has eight tubes for eight different drink flavors. The bottles are cooled in the tubes as the bottles are pushed around the ice chest.


“Serving Bottled Drinks
in this new way excites public interest, takes only HALF the time per bottle— HALF the Ice— HALF the floor space—and LESS THAN HALF the Clerk Hire.”

The heavily insulated coolers measured only 30 by 35 inches. They were made of strong wood and metal with enamel finish and flashing nickel trim.

And the cost of this Cooler? Only $40 down, or $100 all told made possible “because we are the largest makers of Carbonic Gas that puts the life and sparkle in Carbonated Drinks and Bottlers’ Machinery and Supplies.”

There are numerous testimonials for the product and a coupon for a free book “’Buried Treasure,’ containing full details, actual sales records and photos.”

The ad appeared in the Liberty weekly magazine, intended for the whole family, but the message reached out to the owners of “stores, amusement centers, waiting rooms, roadside stands and lobbies.”

The decline of soda fountains has been blamed
on many things, perhaps even this…

“Every day is ice cream day in the home with an Auto Vacuum NO CRANK freezer.”

Making ice cream at home was strictly a luxury for the elite until the Auto Vacuum Freezer Company sold a simple 3-piece ice-making freezer that made homemade ice cream in 30 to 45 minutes. No more churning and cranking a tub of ice cream mixture in an outer pail filled with ice and rock salt. The NO CRANK Auto Vacuum Freezer made making ice cream quick, easy, and affordable.

This wasn’t a novelty—the Auto Vacuum Freezer Company was incorporated on April 7, 1915, and this is a 1926 advertisement in Liberty magazine, 11 years later.


The invention, patented on January 2, 1912, was a simple tin-plate unit comprising a container for the freezable mixture, i.e. the liquid ice cream, and a larger double-walled container for the freeing mixture, i.e. ice and salt. Two double-walled removable screw-top covers sealed the unit. In less than half an hour—without any churning or turning—ice cream was ready for consumption.
Making ice cream was so easy, as the advertisement explains, you could fill the Auto Vacuum before setting off on your  picnic and it would freeze en route. “It can never leak or spill—and keeps the ice cream throughout the day—ready to eat whenever you want it.”

There was a at least one competitive product. Beulah Henry, nickname “Lady Edison”, patented a vacuum ice cream freezer on September 3 of that same year but the patent papers appear to show it had a crank, hence the claim by Auto Vacuum that their unit was “The NO CRANK freezer!”

In 1917, Auto Vacuum successfully defended their patent, called the McCann patent, No.1,013,672, against the William A Sexton Co., a large, long-established food manufacturing company with offices across the United States.

printers devil

For more soda fountain history check out
these old newspaper articles published on the website The Art of Drink

Talk with the Soda Men of Atlanta (1885)
The Thirst for Cocaine (1902)
Beverage Business (1886)