Call 'em what you want: soda fountains, soda shops, sweet shops, malt shops, ice cream shops.....they're all the same. Many of these soda fountains were also found in many drug stores.

Did you ever wonder why so many drug stores had soda fountains? Here's why...

In the 1850s, customers began using the drug store as a place to get certain drink concoctions to help cure headaches. Why the drug store and not an eatery? Because druggists had special medicines (drinks) that included cocaine and/or caffeine. Naturally, when the drink wore off, the headaches would come back. Therefore, back to the drug store for another drink! Customers (patients) walked away feeling rather peppy...

Some of the more famous concoctions included:
DR PEPPER, created by pharmacist Charles Alderton in Texas, 1885,
COCA-COLA, created by druggist John Stith Pemberton in Georgia, 1886,
PEPSI COLA, created by pharmacist Caleb Bradham in North Carolina, 1893.

Yes, cocaine was legal back then, at least up until 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson banned it – along with opium – as over-the-counter ingredients. So, pharmacists began selling other refreshments: milk shakes and ice cream sodas.

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The 1920s came along, and Prohibition kept people away from bars – so where to go? Why, to the local drug store, to sit around, talk, and have some counter refreshments. Just about every drug store in the country now had a soda fountain. This newfangled contraption called a soda dispenser kept the kids in awe as they watched the soda syrup mix with carbonated water out of the spicket.

Unfortunately, when many of these sodas started to be available in glass bottles, there was no need to go to the drugstore for a refreshment fix. Just go to the general store and buy a bottle of pop for a nickel.

There are still soda fountains to this day, but very, very few in drug stores.

Michigan had more than its fair share of drug store soda fountains, sweet shops, and ice cream shops. And by the 40s and 50s, there were just plain sweet shops, apart from drug stores. Take a look at the gallery below and see a whole bunch of 'em!

MICHIGAN'S OLD SODA FOUNTAINS

THANKS TO:
The Pharmacy Times

 

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