Friday, May 31, 2013

What the Heck Is a Bubbler!

We Wisconsinites have some strange names for things.  We’ll often say things and think what we’re saying is completely normal until we visit another state (or someone from a different state visits us) and someone looks at us like we’re crazy, and asks us what the heck we’re talking about!
One of those strange names we have is “Bubbler”.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s what we Wisconsin folks call drinking fountains. 
I was speaking to a gentleman yesterday who is originally from the east coast.  He said that when he first moved here to Wisconsin, he was asking someone for directions and was told, “Just go right around the corner, past the bubbler”.  He said he immediately was confused and asked the person, “I’m sorry, what is that?”  I told him that I think Wisconsin is probably the only state in the USA that uses that term, and then he briefly educated me on why Wisconsinites call it that.  He informed me that it was right here in Wisconsin that the very first drinking fountain was made and since the water bubbled, they called it a bubbler.  I was shocked that I didn’t know this (and to think, a foreigner had to tell me, LOL!), so today I had to do some digging and I was amazed at what I found out.
The very first drinking fountain was made in 1889 in Kohler, WI.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the Kohler Company.  Yep…that’s them!  Kohler actually trademarked the name “Bubbler” for the fountain.  Once other people (in other states) started making fountains, they named them other things and then eventually they just became known around the country as drinking fountains.  That was a great history lesson for me (did I mention I LOVE history?).  Now I know the actual history behind us calling a fountain a “Bubbler”.  It’s nice to know it was actually a trademarked name and we don’t just call it that for the heck of it, LOL. There are still some of Kohler’s original bubblers today, in Madison, WI.
Here’s a picture of one:
Picture from Wikipedia

So, I would love to know if you or anyone else you know uses the term “Bubbler”.   If not, what do you call drinking fountains where you’re from?


  1. Bubbler here! People say we talk funny too....oh, really?? Have you been to Mississippi - my brother-in-law is and I sometimes can't understand a thing he says... :) Blessings from Ringle.

  2. LOL My Dad's side of the family (including him) is from Mississippi so I know what you mean! Not to mention my Mom's family is from Arkansas (but she was born in Kansas). So there is a bunch of Midwest mixed with Southern "country-ness" going on in my family! LOL


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