Sarsaparilla (soft drink)
Sarsaparilla was popular in the USA in the 19th century. According to advertisements for patent medicines of the period, it was considered to be a remedy for skin and blood problems. Ruth Tobias notes that it evokes images of "languid belles and parched cowboys." In Hollywood westerns from the 1930s to the 1950s, to order sarsaparilla in a saloon (instead of whiskey) is often met with mockery by the manly cowboys nearby. Now, however, sarsaparilla is sometimes considered a type of root beer. There are dozens of brands of sarsaparilla made by microbreweries mainly in the United States.
Root beer is uncommon in Australia, but sarsaparilla is more prevalent. Australian sarsaparilla has a different flavor from American root beer or sarsaparilla. Bundaberg brews sarsaparilla from "real sarsaparilla root, licorice root, vanilla beans and molasses."
Sarsi is a sarsaparilla-based drink popular in Asia.
U.S. classic sarsaparilla was not made from the extract of the sarsaparilla plant, a tropical vine distantly related to the lily. It was originally made from a blend of birch oil and sassafras, the dried root bark of the sassafras tree. Sassafras was widely used as a home remedy in the nineteenth century — taken in sufficient doses, it induces sweating, which some people thought was a good thing. Sarsaparilla apparently made its debut as a patent medicine, an easy-to-take form of sassafras, much as Coca-Cola was first marketed in 1885 as a remedy for hangovers and headaches.
- Tobias, Ruth (2007). "Sarsaparilla". In Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. p. 550.
- "Sarsaparilla Reviews".
- "Sarsaparilla". Bundaberg Brewed Drinks. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Whatever happened to the soft drink sarsaparilla? December 16, 1977 by Cecil Adams, retrieved 2013 APRIL 30 @ The Straight Dope.