Root beer or Root tea

An image of a A&W root beer can.

Werkie Larry

An image of a A&W root beer can.

Werkie Larry, Reporter

n 1875, Charles Elmer Hires introduced the first commercial brand of root beer, named Hires Root Beer. Hires initially wanted to name the product “Root Tea,” but chose “Root Beer,” to make the beverage attractive to Pennsylvanian coal miners. Hires, who did not drink alcohol, marketed root beer as an alternative to alcohol.

Root beer is a sweet North American soft drink traditionally made using the root bark of the sassafras tree. Root beer is typically, but not exclusively non-alcoholic, caffeine-free, sweet, and carbonated.

Root beer is made out of 16 roots, and herbs. There are so many different brands of root beer such as A&W, Barq’s, Dad’s, Goose Island, IBC, Mug, and Sioux City. While different brands taste similar they have subtle differences. In terms of flavor, because root beer does not have a lot of ingredients, it has mostly vanilla flavor. Many people say that root beer is an acquired taste. This sweet soft drink is almost exclusive to North America. So, people from outside the U.S either love root beer or they don’t. 

In 1960 a key ingredient (the sassafras root) came to be known as a carcinogen and its use was banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It was because 

It was determined that the potentially dangerous element of the plant was found only in the oil, which is the part that is used to make root beer. 

One of my favorite ways to enjoy root beer is to drink it as a root beer float. I wonder if “Root Beer” would have become as popular if it had been called “Root Tea.”