Soda jerk

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A soda jerk (or soda jerker) was a person — typically a youth — who operated the soda fountain in a drugstore, often for the purpose of preparing and serving ice cream soda. This was made by putting flavored syrup into a specially designed tall glass, adding carbonated water and, finally, one or two scoops of ice cream. The result was served with a long-handled spoon, most commonly known as a "soda spoon", and straws. The name soda jerk came from the jerking action the server would use on the soda fountain handle when adding the soda water, and not the temperament of the server. (cf. jerk)

The position was highly coveted, and awarded only after several months or years of menial labour in the store. Some modern theme diner are styled after establishments from the 1950s and include an actual soda jerk, along with standard jukeboxes and booth seating. Michael Karl Witzel, writing in The American Drive-In Restaurant (2002) describes the archetypal soda jerk as being " consummate showman, innovator and freelance linguist...the pop culture star of the Gilded Age".

The practice of operating a soda fountain in a drugstore reached its peak popularity in the 1940s, and few drugstores today still feature them. However, some drug stores, usually in small rural towns, still do. The proliferation of ice cream parlors declined as......
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