When I was a kid I drank a lot of dandelion and burdock, a fizzy drink that I suppose was really just a kind of root beer. I think it was made by Barr’s, although I haven’t been able to find any old image of the packaging that rings any nostalgic bells. It definitely game in a bottle rather than a can, however “original.”
At the time I didn’t really know what I was drinking. I knew what a dandelion was, but I didn’t see how you could drink it, and I had no idea whatsoever about burdock.
If there’d been a copy of Culpeper’s Herbal in the house I could have read this under “Government and Virtues.”
“Venus challengeth this herb for her own; and by its seed or leaf, you may draw the womb which way you please, either upward by applying it to the crown of the head, in case it falls out, or downward in fits of the mother, by applying it to the soles of the feet; or, if you would stay it in its place, apply it to the navel, and that is likewise a good way to stay the child in it.”
I’m not sure this would actually have left me much wiser. But at least I do now know what the plant looks like – those indeed are the burrs, though the drink is evidently made from the root.
Now I discover that dandelion and burdock drinks are newly fashionable or retro or possibly even hipsterish. Thus:
But wait, there's more. Just the other day I went to a Japanese restaurant called Toshi Sushi where I had these distinctly non-sushi-ish “burdock chips.”
And they tasted great; rooty, and quite a lot like parsnips. Maybe there’s a gap in the market for parsnip soda. Culpeper also tells us “the seed is much commended to break the stone, and causeth it to be expelled by urine,” which is well worth remembering.