Posted tagged ‘tonic’

No Tonic Allowed in the Gym

April 19, 2023
From the 1973 DHS yearbook.

This sign hung on the door to the Dedham High gym 50 years ago, and there’s no doubt that every one of the 2,000 or so students in the school knew exactly what it meant. Hang that sign on the gym door today and you’ll get a lot of confused looks and questions…Hair tonic? Gin and tonic? Those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s know that ‚Äútonic” was another word for soda. Orange ade, root beer, ginger ale, even Coke were referred to collectively as tonic. It was a common and widespread term around here back then, as seen in this ad from the Globe in 1972:

According to the Globe, the first printed instance of the word to describe carbonated beverages was in 1888 in an article describing the theft of ’10 bottles of tonic’ from a Boston store. For close to a century, folks in Massachusetts and other parts of New England could be assured of getting served a carbonated soda when asking for a tonic. The term has been pretty much abandoned these days (Wikipedia called it “antiquated!” Boy that makes me feel old). It joins these other words from my youth that have faded from modern day usage:

Hassock (ottoman)

Divan (couch- this was my father’s word, not mine)

Dungarees (jeans- see my February 2023 post about Dungaree Day)

Supper (dinner)

Cellar (basement)

Crueler (a horizontal donut, now called a stick)

Feel free to share your own “antiquated” words or phrases from back in the day. And keep that tonic out of the gym!