The U.S. Postal Service today dedicated the Soda Fountain Favorites Forever Stamp booklet featuring the cold, sweet treats beloved by people of all ages. The ceremony was held at the Elliston Place Soda Shop in Nashville.
The First-Class Mail Forever booklet of 20 stamps features five different illustrations: a double-scoop ice cream cone, an egg cream, a banana split, a root beer float and a hot fudge sundae.
This booklet includes four of each design. The words “FOREVER*USA” are featured along the right edge of each stamp. The geometric silver-toned patterns in the selvage and on the booklet cover evoke a classic chrome-accented soda fountain. The words “Soda Fountain Favorites” appear across the top of the booklet cover. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps, with illustrations by Nancy Stahl.
“It is our hope at the United States Postal Service that the stamps we are issuing today will spur nostalgia in everyone mailing or receiving postcards, letters and packages,” said Nancy Rettinhouse, vice president, Employee Resource Management, who dedicated the stamp.
“The Postal Service issues a few dozen stamps each year. And each year, there are usually one or two edibles on the list,” said Rettinhouse. “In the past few years, grapes, pears and even wedding cakes have been immortalized with postage stamps. But I venture to say that we have tapped into something special with Soda Fountain Favorites.”
Other participants in the ceremony included Lelan Statom, Emmy Award-winning meteorologist; Tommy Cole, lifelong soda shop customer; Rob Hatchett, Postal Service employee; and Girl Scout Troop 53, whose members read soda fountain essays.
The ice cream soda’s precise origin is not clear, but by the turn of the 20th century, it had become a fountain staple. Adding a creamy scoop or two of chocolate or strawberry to a soft drink only added to its already considerable allure. The rise of refrigeration helped establishments produce, serve and store frozen confections, whose popularity surged. After all, it was difficult to resist thick milkshakes, malts, and sundaes topped with syrups, sauces, whipped cream and cherries.
In cities and towns across the United States, the soda fountain was an important gathering place. When Prohibition banned alcohol sales, people flocked to soda fountains. During World War II, soda fountains popped up at military bases in the United States and abroad, because drinking a soda or indulging in a sundae reminded soldiers of simple pleasures at home.
After World War II, the country’s collective attitude toward dining out began to change. Speed and convenience were prized over service, and by the 1960s, the number of soda fountains had dramatically decreased. Soda fountain culture, however, still lives on in homes, restaurants and ice cream parlors. The joy of sharing a soda or a sundae is an indelible American tradition.