Blast from the Past: 5-2010 So you want to make some rootbeer?

Explit language within. After watching an episode of Modern Marvels on the History Channel concerning Soda and Soft Drinks, they did a great job explaining and clarifying what I tried to in the peice below. See more of my commentary at the end.

So, have you ever thought about it? Recently in my gardening madness I thought about how I could make some blueberry soda. After all, I’d be getting plenty from my 5 bushes eventually, and I love the blueberry soda I buy for $5/4pack in the store. Why not learn how to make your own instead?

So I went and found a recipe. I found a couple actually. I made a simple syrup, mixed it with seltzer (one such recipe without using yeast) and it tasted delicious. Fresh, full of flavor, bubbly, fantastic.

and I did it. Myself. I know of every ingredient. With all the talk about self-sufficiency and going green, I decided that the flavor was better and without all the chemicals and preservatives that are unknown to me and may even be harmful.

You know another soda I like? Root beer. With a delightfully frothy head, smooth taste. . . who wouldn’t want a tall glass of it. I think to myself, “gee I might even like to try making this.”

So I go where a lot of people do, wikipedia. The root beer flavor comes from safrole:

“typically extracted from the root-bark or the fruit of sassafras plants in the form of sassafras oil, or synthesized from other related methylenedioxy compounds. It is the principal component of brown camphor oil, and is found in small amounts in a wide variety of plants, where it functions as a natural pesticide.”

So, it’s just sassafras root. Besides being a word I think I hear in Mystikal songs, it’s gotta be a plant I can grow and get the root of. Then I can do the same thing I did with blueberries. . . learn how to make it into delicious soder. So I kept reading. .

“Safrole is regarded by the U.S. government to be a weak carcinogen in rats”

uh oh. . . you know what that means. . .

“The roots of Sassafras can be steeped to make tea and were used in the flavoring of root beer until being banned by the FDA.”


Fucking assholes. Instead of even bothering to inform the public of the ‘weak carcinogen in rats’ and letting the public decide, they outright banned the oil and then the tree (until 1994 for some reason)

The root beers you’re accustomed to have been flavored artificially. Great. Not only do I not know the actual taste of the old timey root beer that I’ve been served all my life, but I cant even procure the items necessary to make the soft drink of choice for many people years before my time.

Listen. I’m not asking for cocaine to make my own historical version of Coca-Cola (though, why is that any of your business either). I’m looking to grow a plant, take it’s roots, steep them, get the oil, flavor my seltzer water (or yeast concoction). I’m also looking to take my life into risk by drinking the ‘weak carcinogen in rats” to the detriment of myself. Redundancy, I know, but clearer the case. . . this is my body, I will choose what items I put into it and I will decide what risks I take with it.

So it all boils down to this. The Government assholes have told me that drinking root beer flavored with actual sassafras root flavor is bad and is illegal because the main ingredient has been shown to be a “weak carcinogen” in an animal 1/1000 of my size. I can, however, smoke cigarettes and cigars and eat a slab of cow broiled and grilled to be so black that I need a jackhammer to get through the top layer. That might not be healthy, but it hasn’t been deemed illegal yet. YET!

I know what some of you might be saying. “Oh Tony, you’re such a government hater. You don’t realize they’re just looking out for the people who don’t want cancer. You just want to push your agenda. No one wants the real thing anyways. It’s DANGEROUS! CANCER! CANCER AND TERRORISM! TERRORISM! AHHH!”

So maybe you’re right, perhaps we should ban all the items that have weak carcinogens in them as well. After all, you don’t want all the rats that might be eating your garbage to die of cancer. . .

First off, a few KNOWN carcinogens dangerous to HUMANS.

Silica: like those packets you find in your brand new purse. It says “DO NOT EAT” which helps all the little indoctrinated kids who can barely read until they’re 16.

Nickel: I’ve got like 10 in my pocket. I’ve even eaten a few when drunk. Guess I’m fucked.

Alcoholic Beverages: Whawhawhaaaat?

Mineral Oils: Don’t you bathe with these?

Wood Dust: never have this entering the body anywhere

Tobacco: Duh.

and now a few of the weak carcinogens:

Fluoride: Minty fresh!

Lead: Wait, only probable?

Safrole: the ingredient in Root beer.

In the end, the difference is this. I don’t eat my toothpaste. I don’t chew on lead paint. I don’t smoke cigarettes (anymore), I don’t drink alcohol (anymore), I don’t eat nickels (anymore), I’ve not been to a wood shop in a while, and I usually toss out silica packs.

But I would like to have a homemade, old fashioned, real, honest root beer. I will not only risk having “weak carcinogens in rats” in my system, but I will also be risking the agents of the government coming to take me away to harm me because I chose to harm myself.

Maybe you’re saying “oh Tony, go make your fucking soda, and drink it until you’re dead.” But I’m wondering, would you be as indifferent if I chose to sell my soda? What if I chose to sell my soda to children outside of their schools?

Well? Would you be as angry if I chose to sell tomatoes or orange juice to children as they left school?

“It naturally occurs in a variety of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and herbs such as basil. In that role safrole is believed, although not proven, to make a small but measurable contribution to the overall incidence of human cancer, equal to the hazards presented by orange juice and tomatoes.”

Maybe we should tell people the perils of the food they’re eating and drinking. Inform them of the materials they might ingest, inhale, or toke on. Instead, they decide to ban, then unban, then regulate, then ban again.

I will have my root beer, because even though the government made a law on paper, the word didn’t get back to the trees. Not even, the good old sassafras tree, which has been around before man and will be here after man. I will have my roots, I will make my mixture. . .and I will share it with others that would like to choose having A CHOICE.

Oh, and if you don’t believe me, good. Who the hell should? Go check it out for yourself on the internets.

oh and did you know that Root Beer is called sarsaparilla in Australia?

I took a lot of time to write that essay, and I felt good about doing so. I have not actually yet tried to create my own root beer, but I’m reinvigorated to do so now that I’ve seen another explanation on History Channel. A gentleman who ran a natural style soda operation hinted that the reason for the FDA ban on safrole was due to pressure from established entities. That’s right. Competition being killed by government due to the wishes of industry giants. . . Coca-Cola (which used to contain COCAINE) and Pepsi-Cola (named for its former PEPSIN ingredient) both used the powers of government to stop the production of a new and very popular beverage.

Let’s hope they don’t try again maybe this time with sodas you’ve come to enjoy. . . Dr. Pepper, Orange, FuFu Berry?

Maybe they will, but would you do anything to stop government, or sit idly by as your favorite company is shelled by larger counterparts using the force of the g-men?

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