I don’t think I ever got to try Dandelion and Burdock as a kid. It stood well outside the familiar collection of cokes, fantas, and lemonades, somewhere out there in the serious adult world of ginger beers, tonic water, and cups of tea. In time I grew to try Ginger Beer and learn to respect it for the truly wonderful flavour it is. I got to try root beer through my local branch of McDonalds. Eventually I even beheld the wonder that is Cream Soda, but I never tried Dandelion and Burdock. I watched it with scepticism, noticing the chemist like styling, the dark medicine bottle and the olde worlde font, the small amount of dust on the bottles in my local supermarket indicating its dwindling popularity, and I stood safely back.
I’m now drinking a glass for the first time, freshly brewed up from my SodaStream and I am not by any means kicking myself for being remiss and delaying my tasting so far. I can say with total certainty that this drink is heave-inducingly rancid. An abomination of a flavour: 3 parts lizard, 1 part emu, 1 part dirty tortoise, and no parts tasty.
So let’s break it down: The initial taste is faintly medicinal, with a burst of fairly strong plant flavour across the tongue, a waft of bleach to the nose, followed by a slight throat squeezer of coffee. You’ve just about got over that cacophony of awfulness when you get hit by the aftertaste, a queasy mixture of stomach bile, chives and instant brain stab. Having recovered from your insta-headache you go back for another sip and if you’re lucky you can pick up the extra notes of gone off fruit and photocopier toner. Wow.
I am famed for enjoying a wide range of drinks and I have no fear of toxicity, complementing the likes of Root Beer for its flavour reminiscent of dentist mouthwash and knocking the SodaStream clear range because it tastes of nothing, but I do demand that strong flavours are put together with thought and the intention to create a delicious sugar overload experience, not an attempt to purge the digestion. As far as I am aware, Dandelion is a flower beloved of being kicked by small boys who aid the dispersal of its seeds. Burdock, I can only assume must be a shoe or a flip flop. The combination of the two is nothing short of truly evil.
I have no idea why this flavour is still being produced, but I can only assume its origins lie in the Victorian age where unscrupulous entrepreneurs were prone to inventing weird tasting things and then selling them as having certain curative effects. Perhaps this was a popular drink and it has survived through the tenacity of its fans and the blind pursuit of tradition. Well, nostalgia is all well and good, but not all traditions are worth keeping (see fox-hunting, slavery and wearing of corsets) and I’ll be chucking this out when the bin men come on Wednesday.
I have no means of saying whether the SodaStream version of Dandelion and Burdock is a faithful recreation or a pale representation of the real stuff. This is a bit like saying is this a good dog poo? All I can say is that you need to avoid it like you would a relative looking to borrow your money. Duck it like a tall man touring an old house with low beams. Hate it like a drowning man hates water. Yuk.
Take your life into your own hands and pick up a bottle of evil here.