Dandelions were so much more than weeds to our Victorian ancestors. Not only were the tender plants sought for springtime vegetables and salads, but for tea, coffee, wine, beer, and prominent medicinal value. 19th century cook books and newspapers share the Victorian-American viewpoint on the value of dandelions from blossom to root. Recipes for edibles and curatives, advertisements, and more!
Part 4 of an 11-part series: Victorian-American Headaches. Explore five decades’ worth of advertisements for various headache remedies. Powders, capsules, tablets, beverages, and pills. Apparently remedies were gaining traction and becoming popular–though none of them contained a 19th-century chemistry breakthrough–Aspirin.
Hires Root Beer, from its debut in the mid-1870s, was sold as a refreshing beverage (with no medicinal expectations). The name, chosen by Charles H. Hires, to appeal to tough coal miners, who’d never find “root tea” attractive, ended up causing Hires Co. a bit of trouble with Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Who knew that “beer” in a name, and the common knowledge that root beer extract was percolated with alcohol (though the finished drink had no more than a whole loaf of homemade bread), to cause banning of the beverage?
Behind the 19th century soda fountain counter, “baristas” known as Dispensers or Soda Men, knew a tremendous amount about customer service, the making of an ever-growing list of beverages, and the care and use of operating the soda apparatus. While other trained men mixed syrups, compounded recipes for everything from soda water to flavorings to syrups, and cleaned and repaired the machines, this article focuses on the Soda Men and their key role in the success of a Victorian-American Soda Fountain. This post is filled with primary-source recipes, tips for excellent customer service, and instructions to properly pour a soda water or ice cream soda.