Geek Trivia

In 18th Century England Hot Drinks Made From What Substance Were A Popular Coffee Alternative?

Coca Shrugs
Orchid Roots
Black Walnuts
Goat Horn
What Was The First Random-Access Memory Device?

Answer: Orchid Roots

There is a long history of hot drinks served in England and neighboring European countries but, unlike today, many of those drinks were prohibitively expensive for many people at the time of their introduction (and during their rise in popularity).

Hot cocoa, coffee, and tea, for example, were all very popular drinks in 18th and 19th century England, but the price of the base components (which were all imported from far away and exotic locales) kept them largely away from the lower classes.

Rather¬†than go entirely without such luxuries, people improvised. One of the most popular drinks during that time in England, for example, was known as “saloop”. The drink was made from mixing ground up wild orchid roots (and later sassafrass roots) into hot water. Apparently, as not-particularly-appetizing as that may sound to a modern consumer with abundant access to good old coffee and tea, it was actually pretty tasty.

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t falling tea and coffee prices that led to the disappearance of saloop but widespread rumors that drinking it would treat venereal diseases. To be seen drinking it in public quickly became shameful and the drink faded quickly into obscurity.