Michigan’s Old Refreshment Stands: 1900-1950
We've been familiar with refreshment stands ever since we were kids. My neighborhood pals and I would make our own little stands, set it up in the front yard by the sidewalk, and sell glasses of Kool-Aid. One or two cents a glass, if I recall correctly. Coca-Cola took advantage of the popularity of refreshment stands – their phrase “the pause that refreshes” took hold of America and still pops up once in a while.
The milkman would usually humor us and buy a glass...but the grumpy old man who lived across the street thought we were despicable delinquents – cheating good folks out of a whole penny. Geez, that guy was a tool.
Then as we got older, we'd grab a few cents and go down to the town's ice cream joint – it was like a Dairy Queen, but under a name that only the local townfolk would understand.
When we were old enough to drive, we'd go to the lake, where there would be a concession stand attached to the changing rooms. Change into your bathing suit and grab some goodies on your way down to the beach!
Then we were on our own and traveling all over the state. Along the way were more refreshment stands just waiting. Sno-cones, popsicles, pop, ice cream sandwiches, lemonade, cones, root beer floats, sundaes, malts, shakes.....and that was just the sweet stuff. Everything else was secondary: chili dogs, cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings...just about every greasy item you could imagine. The photo gallery below shows over 25 refreshment stands spread throughout Michigan.
Usually around a refreshment stand would be one or two picnic tables where you could enjoy your ice cream cone as it melted down the cone, over your hand, and onto the ground.
Yeah, refreshment stands have been around a couple of hundred years or more, but the classic ones appear every summer. And I'll probably see you there.
Michigan's Vintage Refreshment Stands