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Santa Fe Trail Center to explore soda fountains
Event scheduled Sunday
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LARNED — The Santa Fe Trail Center Museum will host “Soda Fountains of Kansas,” a presentation and discussion by Cindy Higgins at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Trail Center Museum, two miles west of Larned on K-156.
Following the presentation, root beer floats will be served from the candy counter in the museum lobby. The back bar of the candy counter came from the Busy Bee Confectionary in Larned, which dates back to the early 20th century. The program, which is made possible by the Kansas Humanities Council, is free and open to the public.
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. 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 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.
“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,” Higgins said. “Serving an updated menu, several soda fountains remain in Kansas today, and nationwide offer innovative artisanal treats reminiscent of the fountains’ original offerings.”
“Soda Fountains of Kansas” is part of the Kansas Humanities Council’s Humanities Speakers Bureau, featuring presentations and discussions that examine our shared human experience—our innovations, culture, heritage, and conflicts.
The Kansas Humanities Council conducts and supports community-based programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural life of their communities. For more information about KHC programs contact the Kansas Humanities Council at 785/357-0359 or visit online at
For more information about “Soda Fountains of Kansas” contact the Santa Fe Trail Center Museum at 620/285-2054 or email Follow us on Facebook.