Sarsaparilla (soft drink)
Sarsaparilla was popular in the United States 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, ordering sarsaparilla in a saloon (instead of whiskey) is often met with mockery by the manly cowboys nearby. Sarsaparilla drinks feature widely in American popular culture, particularly in works related to the American West. In the 1957–1961 ABC western television series, Sugarfoot, the title character, Tom Brewster, played by Will Hutchins, is a teetotaler who orders sarsaparilla "with a dash of cherry" whenever he enters a saloon. Sarsaparilla was also believed to be a preventative against venereal disease, possibly because of the diuretic effects of flushing the urethra after intercourse.
Sarsaparilla is not readily available in most countries, although many pubs and most major supermarket chains in the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Australia stock sarsaparilla-flavored soft drinks, and sarsaparilla remains available in the United Kingdom as a legacy of the temperance movement. Australian sarsaparilla has a different flavor from American root beer or sarsaparilla.
Sarsi is a sarsaparilla-based drink popular in Asia.
Sarsaparilla is produced on a small scale in the United Kingdom. Baldwin's produces a Sarsaparilla Cordial in the United Kingdom, and have done so since 1844. It is produced in Walworth Road, London, and is readily available in pie and mash shops in the East End of London, where it is popular, as well as being available in the supermarket Tesco. In the north of England, sarsaparilla is still produced by Fitzpatrick's, Britain's last temperance bar, indicating its previous importance to the temperance movement there.
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 It was originally made from a blend of birch oil and sassafras, the dried root bark of the sassafras tree.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 had health benefits. Sarsaparilla apparently made its debut as a patent medicine, an easy-to-take form of sassafras, much as Coca-Cola (then an easy-to-take form of cocaine) was first marketed in 1885 as a remedy for hangovers, headaches, and morphine addiction. Besides the effects of the ingredients, sodas were popular in the United States at the time, due to the belief that carbonated water had health benefits.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sarsaparilla.|
- "Hood's Sarsaparilla". Lowcountry Digital Library. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
- Tobias, Ruth (2007). "Sarsaparilla". In Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. p. 550.
- "Sarsaparilla Reviews".
- Whatever happened to the soft drink sarsaparilla? December 16, 1977 by Cecil Adams, retrieved 2013-04-30
- "Themes for Coca-Cola Advertising (1886–1999)". Archived from the original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved 2007-02-11.