So long soda fountain?

Published 4:51 pm Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy days might not be quite as happy at Byrd’s Drugs in the coming days.

The talk is that the Byrd’s “soda jerks” will not be “jerking’ those old-fashioned Coca-Colas much longer.

The Coca-Cola Company is phasing out the metal canisters of Coke syrup and carbonated water that mix when dispensed and give the fountain sodas the old-time flavor that Byrd’s customers have grown to love.

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The metal canisters will be replaced with plastic containers that are used in most restaurants and fast-food establishment in today’s world.

Joe Watson, proprietor, said those plastic containers take up a lot of space and space is not something that is plentiful at the Byrd’s Drugs soda fountain.

“Fountain Cokes have been served at Byrd’s Drugs for more than 70 years,” Watson said. “They have always been a part of our store and I’d hate to see them go. These fountain Cokes have a different taste even from those that are dispensed from those pre-mixed plastic containers.”

Mona Jackson, who works the Byrd’s soda fountain, said the metal canisters give the fountain drinks that old-fashioned soda taste or, at least, the connoisseurs of fine soft drinks say they do.

“I just know that people really like our fountain cokes,” she said. “People come just to get them and they’ll be disappointed if we don’t have them anymore.”

There’s just some kind of cola magic that happens when a lever is pulled and the Coke syrup and the carbonated water come rushing from their individual metal canisters, through the coils and swirl together at the last moment and into the customer’s waiting cup.

“The fountain Cokes do have a distinctive taste,” Watson said. “I hate drastic change so I don’t want to do away with our fountain Cokes but sometimes progress forces change.”

And, before that change is forced on Byrd’s Drugs, connoisseurs of fine fountain sodas just might want to take advantage of the here and now.