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Postcard Spotlight: Sin at the Sweet Shop



This confectionery, with its multi-color décor, light bulbs, and polka dot flooring, must have made for an exciting experience for those who went there. Postcard printed before 1907 in Germany .

Some American purists in the early 1900s denounced confectionery stores that served ice cream and sweet drinks because they were damaging the morals of young boys and girls. They also blamed Greek immigrants – who owned and operated many of the shops at the time – for engaging in unlawful activities to make money.

“The men who own the ‘joints’ are as a rule rascals, and stop at nothing short of murder to gain wealth,” according to Samuel Paynter Wilson, the author of the 1910 book Chicago By Gaslight. Wilson wrote that some of the shops had private quarters for boys and girls to engage in romantic activities.

He also believed that the ice cream and drinks were spiked with liquor. In one example detailed in the book, Wilson and a friend ordered a popular drink at one of these shops, and both concluded that it was probably 80% alcohol. Wilson said he promptly called the police, and the place was closed within 24 hours.

The postcard shown here is popular among collectors. The postcard was printed in Germany and has an undivided back, which indicates that it was most likely produced before 1907. 

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