Sarsaparilla (soft drink)

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Sarsaparilla is a soft drink, originally made from the Smilax ornata plant, but now sometimes made with artificial flavors.


Two historical Sioux City sarsaparilla bottles, as used in retail sale for decades by Sioux City brand from United States, until the 2010s

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.[1] Ruth Tobias notes that it evokes images of "languid belles and parched cowboys".[2]

Sarsaparilla is sometimes considered to be a type of root beer. There are dozens of brands of sarsaparilla beverages made by microbreweries, mainly in the United States.[3]


HeySong sarsaparilla beverage from Taiwan

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-flavoured soft drinks, and sarsaparilla remains available in the United Kingdom as a legacy of the temperance movement. Australian sarsaparilla has a different flavour from American root beer or sarsaparilla.

Sarsi is a sarsaparilla-based drink popular in Asia.[citation needed]

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 continuously 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 some supermarkets. In the north of England, sarsaparilla is produced by Fitzpatrick's, Britain's last temperance bar, indicating its previous importance to the temperance movement there.

Classic American 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 It was originally made from a blend of birch oil and sassafras, the dried root bark of the sassafras tree.[contradictory] Sassafras was widely used as a home remedy in the 19th 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 was first marketed in 1885 as a remedy for hangovers, headaches and morphine addiction.[4] 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.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hood's Sarsaparilla". Lowcountry Digital Library. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Tobias, Ruth (2007). "Sarsaparilla". In Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. p. 550. 
  3. ^ "Sarsaparilla Reviews". 
  4. ^ Whatever happened to the soft drink sarsaparilla? December 16, 1977 by Cecil Adams, retrieved 2013-04-30
  5. ^ "Themes for Coca-Cola Advertising (1886–1999)". Archived from the original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved 2007-02-11.