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JackAdams's avatar

Have you ever tried/sampled/tasted SARSPARILLA?

Asked by JackAdams (6479points) September 20th, 2008

The mean, tough cowboy ambles into the saloon and tells the bartender, “Sam, gimme a Sasparilla.” The viewer (like me) wonders, “What is that?”

Sasparilla is actually spelled and pronounced Sarsparilla, but I’ve never been able to find any of it, anywhere, and am wondering if anyone here has had a sip or two of it, what it tastes like, and why has it appeared to have gone the way of the Grape Nehi?

I’m asking strictly out of curiosity, of course. You hear it mentioned on so many western TV shows and movies, you eventually want to find out what it is like, and if it’s worth ordering.

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18 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

it tastes like dandelion and burdock. Or for you in the US sort of like Dr Pepper. Sort of.

Seesul's avatar

There are places online that you can order it, and I think that Knott’s used to carry it, as well as some other places with a Western theme. Some markets do carry it and I’ve seen it at BevMo as well, but they don’t always have it. You might want to try and find some candy that is that flavor. There used to be a company that sold sticks of it, like candy canes without the hook. That would be cheaper than ordering the beverage, as the shipping for the bottles is what is so expensive. It’s similar to root beer, but just different enough.

I found this interesting. It says it has been declared a carcinogen. I also found another article that said it is served (as of 2007 in Columbia, CA (gold rush country, California). That must be where I had it. An interesting town to visit (and stay) if you’re ever in the area.

The first article is about the candies, so perhaps they are not using it in candies, as the quantity can’t be controlled as easily and children would be prone to eat it. Maybe they still serve the beverage, but on a limited basis, as in Columbia, but that might be your answer on why it is now harder to find.

I think it’s closer to root beer than Dr. Pepper, but I see what Lightly means. Maybe kind of a cross between the two? I’ve never tasted dandelion or burdock, so I can’t comment on that. If you like root beer, I think it’s worth trying, but try to find the hard candy.

Mitsu_Neko's avatar

I had a bottle once when I was little and it is good, I frequently buy bags of sarsparilla and horehound candies. They have lots of old flavors I like. Such as anise

MissAnthrope's avatar

Yeah, as far as I know, sarsaparilla drinks were the precursor to our modern root beer, so you can expect a similar taste. Wikipedia says what the cowboys called sarsaparilla was actually made first with sassafras (which makes sense, because I’ve tasted sassafras and it tastes like root beer).

As for sarsaparilla, you can make a drink with the roots, even an alcoholic drink.. making the name “root beer” even more apt.

Related question: What is the ‘root’ in ‘root beer’?

Nimis's avatar

Yum…I mean, yes.
Tastes like root beer…with a dash of what’s-that-taste?

EmpressPixie's avatar

I’ve had it, it tastes a lot like root beer. Plus, if you get sasparilla extract you can make your own root beer (which we tried when I was in sixth grade—it didn’t work, but mostly because I was young and didn’t think to add the sugar before the soda).

Mitsu_Neko's avatar

That soundlike something I would do

I once made cookies but accidentally used corn meal instead of flour. They broke the linoleum tile floor

EmpressPixie's avatar

Oh! My parents were huge fans of sasparilla tea. They swore up and down it would settle an upset tummy.

Mitsu: the real question is: did you try to eat them after that?

Edited to add: They’re still alive! We just haven’t had the tea in the house any time recently.

shrubbery's avatar

Mmmm I love Sarsparilla, though for some reason I always thought it was ‘Sarsparella’. If you’ve ever used Deep Heat, that’s what it smells like.

Mitsu_Neko's avatar

I tried to feed them to my sister

I love herbal tea

tupara's avatar

We used to get it in cans when we were kids. It was called Sasparilla: old fashioned root beer and I loved it (this was a long time ago). I have seen another product called ‘Sars’ which I think is something similar but haven’t tried it; it’s not the most enticing name.

gailcalled's avatar

I drank it as a kid; it tasted just like quality root beer. You can also make birch beer from the bark of the black birch. We have lots of them around here; if I chew on a twig, it tastes like wintergreen.”

asmonet's avatar

yes. and its made of delicious.

reymysterio619_369's avatar

i have had Sapirella before it is a kind of root beer and is very good in my opinion.

dalepetrie's avatar

I get it every year at the Minnesota State Fair, they spell it sarsaparilla, and it tastes like root beer with kind of a licorice or anise overtone.

Tantigirl's avatar

We used to have it in Australia too, it does taste like root beer. My grandfather didn’t like it, he called it flyspray!!!

EmpressPixie's avatar

@aanuszek That’s what I always think of when anyone says “sasparilla” (HE found a kangaroo that followed HIM home and now IT is HIS). I have a serious, serious crush on SHR.

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