The Soda Jerk wasn't a Jerk!
Make an Ice Cream Soda in Honor of the Soda Jerk on National Ice Cream Soda Day on June 30
June 30 is National Ice Cream Soda Day so what better way to celebrate than to honor the Soda Jerk!
The Soda Jerk was a national fixture for almost 40 years in the United States and other countries. They were in every drugstore and in many department stores and some diners.
Some had a whole career as a soda jerk but most relinquished their title to young upwardly mobile teens (YUMTS?) who sometimes heavily competed for the position.
Their motivation was being the star of the show, the center of attention for many pretty girls and all the ice cream you could eat.
I have included many photos of original soda jerks and also a recipe for a basic ice cream soda or float.
Hopefully, this information will keep you cool for the Summer ahead!
Does a Soda Jerk eat Jerky?
The Soda Jerk is not a jerk, nor does he eat Jerky; at least not at the soda fountain.
A Soda Jerk was named by what he did, not who he was. This term was given to the employees, usually male teenagers, that worked behind the soda fountains from the 1910's to around the early 1950's.
Being a Soda Jerk was not something derogatory, by any means. It was one of the most coveted jobs in that era. Most store workers started as "sweepers" or "stockers" or "even "cashiers." By being a good employee, they could eventually become the drugstore Soda Jerk.
The Soda Jerk was not only a great job, they were very talented. They could amuse customers by tossing scoops of ice cream in various ways and they also had access to the pretty female patrons. Much like a bartender today, you could talk to the Soda Jerk and tell them your troubles. However, the conversation was much lighter because the Soda Jerk was younger in age.
How did they get their name? The soda fountain had a big lever that they had to pull to put soda into the glass, usually followed by syrup, the ice cream and any toppings. The handle of the fountain was very secure and tight, requiring the Soda Jerk to pull sharply or "jerk" the handle. Putting it back in its original position also required some force. Thus, the Soda Jerk was born.
So, the next time someone calls you a "jerk," just remember, all jerks in history were not bad and everything will probably work out for you!
What you will need to be a Soda Jerk, or to just Create your own Ice Cream Soda - Sorry, I can't ship the ice cream or whipped cream and you can use any soda th
If you make ice cream sodas or floats, you need to have a mug to put them in.
Nothing beats glass and the old beer wagon style mugs are the best. Everything just seems to taste better in these mugs, don't you think?
I love these spoons.
They are not only good for ice cream floats, but also iced tea and other "tall" drinks.
This is a topping that you can't live without when creating great sodas, floats and shakes.
i always eat my cherry before anything else. What do you do?
There are other syrups but noting is quite like the original from Hershey, Pennsylvania.
I always wanted to visit there but never have. I wonder if they allow sampling. If so, I would bring my own spoon.
Paper straws are a must if you are going to create an authentic "vintage" ice cream float.
We used these when I was young; they don't have the unhealthy plastic residue in them.
- Ice Cream
- Soda water or cabonated Soft Drinks
- Whipped Cream (If desired)
- Maraschino Cherries (if desired)
- Get out your mug spoon and straw.
- I always fill up my mug 1/2 way with soda water or soft drink first. If you put in the ice cream first, it will overflow.
- Put in a scoop or 2 of ice cream
- Cover with whipped cream and add a cherry, as desired.
Don't forget the Soda Jerk Hat
How in the world can you be a Soda Jerk and not wear the little hat.
Fun for costume parties or just to wear around the house. If you wear this outside you will definitely impress your neighbors.
You can wear your own white shirt and black bow tie. I know everyone has those handy.
Soda Jerks were no longer popular after the early 1950's. Fast food walk-up restaurants and drive-in eateries became the "in" thing.
The Drugstore - Home of the Ice Cream Soda for many Years
In the soda fountain era, booth seating also rose in popularity as an alternative to stools.
It was during the soda fountain era that the jukebox also rose in popularity. There were free standing machines that were eventually replaced with booth jukeboxes.
The Soda Jerk was usually very skilled in their actions and would always perform for their patrons by mixing and tossing ice cream. They were smooth-talkers and girls would swoon over them.
Norman Rockwell - The Soda Fountain - This picture tells the story of the Soda Jerk
Norman Rockwell said it best in this work entitled "Soda Fountain."
The young girls in this depiction are entranced by the Soda Jerk. Do you think his pointy nose has anything to do with it?
Seats near the actual soda fountain were the most popular seating location. This was the center of activity and these seats were almost always occupied.