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)