Later this year, the U.S. Postal Service will introduce “Soda Fountain Favorites” stamps as part of their Forever collection, featuring illustrations by New York City artist Nancy Stahl. Each stamp features one of five illustrations: a double-scoop ice cream cone, an egg cream, a banana split, a root beer float, and a hot fudge sundae.
The stamps will pay homage to the soda fountain’s long and patriotic history as an American classic, beginning when a Yale professor, Benjamin Silliman, created carbonated water in 1806. Silliman later opened an apothecary and two soda fountains where he could sell his invention — though competitors quickly opened their own shops. By the turn of the twentieth century, ice cream sodas had become a standard part of the soda fountain menu, and by the time Prohibition hit, the popularity of soda fountains had soared.
Thankfully, “the rise of refrigeration helped establishments produce, serve, and store frozen confections, whose popularity surged,” according to a press release from the Postal Service. “After all, it was difficult to resist thick milkshakes, malteds, and sundaes topped with syrups, sauces, whipped cream, and cherries.”
During World War II, soda fountains even showed up at military bases in the U.S. and abroad so that American soldiers could be reminded of home. Though soda fountains are a much rarer sight today, the nostalgic Forever stamps are meant to serve as a reminder that “the joy of sharing a soda or a sundae is an indelible American tradition.”