I’ve always wanted to get my hands on one, and now here it is, waiting on a shelf in a back room at the John Oxley—The Australasian Confectioner and Soda Fountain Journal—all twelve monthly issues for the year 1925 bound in a single volume. It’s not small either: at over 100 pages per journal, that’s 1,200 pages chock full of articles about things like why sugar isn’t bad for you, instalments by Macpherson Robertson about Australia’s early confectioners, and advertisements for everything from milkshake machines and Aridor lolly jars to complete soda fountain installations with electric carbonators, counters, and back bars, including mirrors, leadlight work, and carved timber joinery.
I imagine proprietors leaning, chin in hand, on counters in cafés all over the country as they pour over the latest copy, dreaming of new gadgets, scratching numbers on order pads with stubby pencils, figuring out whether a New Century Balcony model soda fountain would be worth the expense. And who could ignore Sweetacres’ claim that they’re selling 1,000,000 Minties per day? The product has been on the shelves for three years; it might be a stayer. And their latest line, Charioteer Toffees in those gorgeous tins—we could be selling them in hundred years’ time.
The Australasian Confectioner and Soda Fountain Journal kept café-owners up to date with the issues affecting their trade and enabled them to check out the latest product lines for their extensive confectionery counters, milk bars, and soda fountains. Ninety years on, it offers us a snapshot of a period in our nation’s history and a glimpse into the concerns that occupied the spare moments for Greek men and women who spent their lives selling Columbines and making milkshakes and ice cream sodas.