Sunday, October 25, 2015


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.


  1. Haven't had Dandelion and Burdock since I was a kid but always liked it more than coke (or pepsi, which was much more common then) and might be tempted to give it a try. Those burdock root chips look pretty tempting...

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. deleted the above cos it had too many typos - here edited: I went down a bit of rabbit hole trying to find the Sheffiled-dandelion and burdock connection. My memory is that there was factory on Penistone Road, in Hillsborough, where they also made Tizer and Jusoda. This was close to, if not next to, the Bassett's Licorice Allsorts factory. These of course were just down the road from the steel works - men worked in steel, women worked in sweets. But I can't find any details online of the pop factory. And it's true - Coke and Pepsi were regarded as a bit of a treat, perhaps also a bit fancy.

  2. Yes, pepsi cost considerably more and you only had it when you were out, whereas a big bottle of dandelion and burdock would occasionally find its way home.

  3. Ben Shaws' (of Hudderfield) Dandelion and Burdock was definitely a Fish 'n' Chips shop drink back when I were a lad in West Yorkshire. In fact, I don't remember it being sold anywhere else. Now Shaws is part of a global conglomerate, naturally....