Sugar-laced Tonics and Fizzy Cure-alls

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Soda Fountains of Kansas” by Cindy Higgins.

City Drug Store, Fredonia, 1930s. kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

City Drug Store, Fredonia, 1930s. kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

During the glory days of the soda fountain, Kansas pharmacists created tonics and curatives that eventually evolved into refreshments like the Brown Cow, the Mudslide, and the Egg Cream. “Most every early Kansas pharmacy sooner or later installed a soda fountain stocked with sugar-laced tonics and fizzy cure-alls invented by the local pharmacist and served by a fast-moving, slang-talking soda jerk,” says KHC presenter Cindy Higgins said.

Many people still enjoy the fun refreshments. “Serving an updated menu, several soda fountains remain in Kansas today, and some nationwide offer innovative artisanal treats reminiscent of the fountains’ original offerings,” she says.

In her Speakers Bureau talk, Higgins explains how government regulations, World War I luxury taxes, and bottled soda pop played a role in these ice cream concoctions that became a profitable sideline business. The presentation will explore soda fountains in Kansas today and the revival of soda fountains throughout the nation.

Cindy Higgins

Cindy Higgins

Cindy Higgins is a journalist and Kansas historian whose research interests focus on Kansas industry before technological mechanization dramatically changed work and labor in the early 20th century.

You can attend Cindy Higgins’ “Soda Fountains of Kansas” on October 18th in Derby. You can also bring this or one of the other presentations in the Humanities catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.