SB Gem: Soda Fountain at Ben’s Town Antiques
If you want to experience a true piece of Americana, then travel north to Benton. There you will find an old-fashioned soda fountain tucked inside Ben’s Town Antiques. It’s a chance for grandparents to relive an experience from their childhood; it’s also an opportunity for young people to check out what it was like to live in the early 20th century.
- Owners Tina Mercer and Charles Duke said there are only a handful of working soda fountains that are in their original location in the United States. The soda fountain at Ben’s Town Antiques is one of them.
- Sodas are served every Saturday and Sunday.
- There are a variety of sodas available –– Coca-Cola, Vanilla Coke, Strawberry Coke, Cherry Coke, Root Beer, Strawberry, Strawberry Cream Soda, Orange, Root Beer Float and Orange Cream Soda.
- The most popular soda is orange with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Any soda can be purchased for $2. Vanilla ice cream can be added at no additional charge. In 1926, sodas sold for a nickel.
- Historically, soda fountains are seen in drug stores. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was believed that CO2 had medicinal effects. The same was true for Coca-Cola.
- The store was built and the soda fountain constructed by E.E. Parker. He was the depot manager for the railroad in Benton.
- The term soda jerk was a pun on soda clerk, the formal job title of the drugstore assistants who operated soda fountains, and was inspired by the jerking action of the server.
“This is about the love of preserving the past,” Tina said.