It’s National Ice Cream Soda Day!

By Mary Nicholson

OK.  I think most of us know that June is Dairy Month, but who knew there was a day devoted solely to the Ice Cream Soda?  Not me!  So how does one go about celebrating such a day?  I’m thinking that varies widely depending on individual likes and dislikes.  But let me give you some background on the Ice Cream Soda.

In some parts of the country, the terms ice cream soda and float are used interchangeably.  According to Wikipedia, either one is a beverage that consists of one or more scoops of ice cream in either a soft drink or in a mixture of flavored syrup and carbonated water.  As you might imagine, the possible combinations are practically endless!

The ice cream soda was invented by Robert M. Green in Philadelphia, PA, in 1874[2]. The traditional story is that, on a particularly hot day, Mr. Green ran out of ice for the flavored sodas he was selling and used vanilla ice cream from a neighboring vendor to keep his sodas cold. His own account, published in Soda Fountain magazine in 1910, states that while operating a soda fountain at the Franklin Institute’s sesquicentennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1874, he wanted to create a new treat to attract customers away from another vendor who had a fancier, bigger soda fountain. After some experimenting, he decided to combine ice cream and soda water. During the celebration, he sold vanilla ice cream with soda water and a choice of 16 different flavored syrups. The new treat was a sensation, and soon other soda fountains began selling ice cream sodas. Green’s will instructed that “Originator of the Ice Cream Soda” was to be engraved on his tombstone.[3]

There are at least three other claimants for the invention of ice cream soda: Fred Sanders, [4] Philip Mohr (in 1782 in Elizabeth, NJ),[4][5] and George Guy, one of Robert Green’s own employees.[6]

Regardless of its origins, the beverage quickly became very popular, to such a degree that it was almost socially obligatory among teens, although many adults abhorred it. According to some accounts, it was banned, either entirely or on holy days, by some local governments, giving rise to a substitute treat, the “sodaless” ice cream sundae. As soda was marketed as a miracle cure, it was often considered a substance that required oversight and control like alcohol, another controlled substance that could not be served or purchased on Sundays in many conservative areas. Many soda fountains had to figure out a way to turn a profit on Sundays when selling soda was considered illegal.[7] The solution was to serve ice cream on these days, as it is merely a food product and not a controlled substance. Soda fountains then coined the term “Sundaes” for the ice cream concoctions that they served on “soda’s day of rest”.

2. ^ “Soda beverages in Philadelphia”. American druggist and pharmaceutical record 48: 163. 1906..

3. ^ “Ice Cream Soda a New Drink”. The Soda Fountain (D. O. Haynes) 20: 66. 1921.

4. ^ a b Sundae Best: a history of soda fountains by Anne Cooper Funderburg; Popular Press, 2002

5. ^ The Three Principal Claimants for the Invention of Ice Cream Soda; Soda Fountain, Vol. 18; November 1913

6. ^ “Ice Cream Soda Invented By Seattle Pioneer” Seattle Times 19 May, 1965. p.40

7. ^ Funderburg, Anne Cooper (2002). Sundae best: a history of soda fountains. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press. pp. 61–64. ISBN 0-87972-854-X.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: