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Soda Jerks: A Lingo All Their Own

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Introducing the Soda Jerk

Inspired as a nickname for the soda clerk who operated soda fountains as late as the 1950s, the “Soda Jerk” title was inspired by the jerking action a server used to swing the soda fountain handle back and forth when adding soda water to a fountain beverage. They prepared milkshakes and other treats using drink mixers (much like those still sold today) that feature spindles and agitators to fold air in for smooth and fluffy results served in tall glasses. Soda Jerks were charged not only with preparing delicious treats for customers, but with entertaining them as well.

A Lingo All Their Own

The colorful jargon of the Soda Jerk was verbal shorthand for calling out orders as part of putting on a show for customers. The order consisted of the method of preparation, the number and size of the order, the basic soda fountain item, and any special instructions, such as “Shake One in the Hay and Spit on It” (a strawberry shake with raspberries on top). Soda fountains had handbooks of recipes they had to memorize, but hundreds of variations were created on the fly by the creative Soda Jerks.

Common Soda Jerk Lingo

Use our compilation of some of the most common Soda Jerk lingo to inspire your next frozen treat.

  • Baby (a glass of milk)
  • Black (cola)
  • Bottom (ice cream in a drink)
  • Brown (root beer)
  • Bucket of (several ingredients combined)
  • Cha (chocolate)
  • Chicago (pineapple juice or soda)
  • Concrete (a milkshake so thick it can be turned upside down and not drip)
  • Cow juice (milk)
  • Crash (cookie crumbs)
  • Draw one (coffee)
  • Draw one from the south (strong coffee)
  • Dust (malted milk powder)
  • Egg Cream (a chocolate soda with a dash of milk)
  • Fizz (a scoop of sherbet or sorbet)
  • Floater (a glass of malted milk with a scoop of ice cream)
  • Florida (orange)
  • Forty-one (lemons or lemonade)
  • Freak (orange flavored soda)
  • Freeze (ice cream)
  • Fuzzy (peaches)
  • Gravel (nuts)
  • Hang a Draw (glass of root beer)
  • Hang One (Coca-Cola®)
  • Heavy on the Hail (extra ice)
  • Hold the Hail (no ice)
  • Hot cha (hot chocolate)
  • In the hay (strawberry milkshake)
  • Java (coffee)
  • Mash one (mashed bananas)
  • Mud (chocolate ice cream)
  • Natural (7-Up®)
  • One on the country (yogurt or buttermilk)
  • Patch (strawberries)
  • Salties (peanuts)
  • Sand (sugar)
  • Shake one (make a milk shake)
  • Snowball (scoop of vanilla ice cream)
  • Spit in it (raspberries)
  • Spit on it (raspberries on top)
  • Squeeze one (orange juice)
  • Triple Threat (three scoops of ice cream)
  • Van (vanilla ice cream)
  • White cow (vanilla milkshake)
  • Winter (whipped cream)
  • Yip (an ice cream soda blended in a drink mixer)

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