Can Kids Drink Root Beer? The Truth Behind Root Beer

Root beer is a sweet, carbonated beverage that has been enjoyed by many for centuries. The first recorded recipe for the drink was in 1876. It was made from natural ingredients including herbs, sugar, water, and one or more other flavorings.

But its name still makes confusion as to whether it’s an alcoholic beverage or not. So, let’s find out the truth about root beers in this blog post.

Can kids drink root beer?

Kids can drink root beer because it doesn’t have a large amount of alcohol in it. Originally, root beer is only made out of extracts from Sassafras tree roots mixed with other herbs but evolved into a variety of modifications, like adding alcohol or carbonation, to attract other consumers and gain more profit.

Root beer is made from extracts of herbs, water, sugar, and yeast. This mixture is fermented two times to get its distinct taste and foaming effect.

Even though it was fermented, the alcohol content is still lower than the alcoholic beverages sold in the market making it safe for kids to drink.

However, moderation is still required when drinking root beer because it contains a large amount of sugar, artificial flavorings, and preservatives that can cause obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, in the long run.

Again, root beer won’t make you tipsy or drunk because it doesn’t have alcohol.

Then, where did its name come from? Is it a root crop with beer? What is “beer” in root beer? Let’s find out in the following sections.

What is root beer?

Root beer is a famous beverage popularized in 1876 by a pharmacist named Charles Elmer Hires.

Root Beer was originally from the extracts of Sassafras tree roots mixed with other herbs for a distinct taste.

However, to gain more popularity among consumers, instead of using “root tea”, they used “root beer” to attract more people.

Moses King, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Charles Elmer Hires learned about the extracts of Sassafras tree roots when he and his wife were served with them as herbal tea during their honeymoon.

He looked for its health benefits and found out that it was used by Native Americans for various traditional medical practices like treating skin infections, gout, arthritis, insect bites, and more.

Since he was convinced about this, he decided to sell the drink to the public as an herbal tea set with instructions on how to prepare it.

But it didn’t get its popularity using that strategy, so they decided to showcase the tea at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and changed its name into root beer to attract more people.

And guess what? It worked!

However, the use of extracts from Sassafras tree roots was later on disproved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 1960 because it contains numerous amounts of safrole, making it harmful.

From then on, root beer recipes were modified using other herbs, flavoring, and foaming agents to continue their production.

Why root beer is called root beer?

Root beer is called root beer because it’s a marketing strategy used before to gain more consumers and popularity of the said product.

Originally, it was called “root tea” because it comes from the extracts of Sassafras tree roots but then changed into “root beer” to attract more adult male consumers.

The popularity of root beer started in 1876 then soar and withstood the time of the Prohibition Period where the United States propose a ban on the use and production of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.

To clarify things, root beers were not advertised as an alternative for alcoholic drinks during the Prohibition Period. It was still marketed as a health drink, especially for male working adults.

Unknown author (not listed), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Since there are bans on alcoholic drinks at that time, people remind them of drinking real beer when drinking root beer because of its spice kick and foaming effect without any alcohol in it.

Different spices were added to give a distinct taste to root beer.

The spices can be cinnamon, dandelion, or burdock. Manufacturers of today’s root beer have different ingredients which make one root beer brand taste different from the others.

On the other hand, its foaming effect comes from the plant sarsaparilla or soapbark.

The foaming characteristic makes root beer a unique, and refreshing drink at that time making it more appealing to working men because of the alcohol ban.

In today’s root beer, some manufacturers use carbonated water to increase its foaming effect while others use other ingredients to stabilize the foam without any carbonation.

Can you get drunk by root beer?

You can get drunk from root beer if it contains increased levels of alcohol. Since root beer is originally root tea, then the possibility of getting tipsy and drunk is out of context. So you can drink it any time of the day whenever you want to.

Modern root beers have different varieties of herbs and spices depending on the brand. This makes every root beer different from one another.

Kids can drink root beer because most of its content is from extracts of different herbs and spices but the concerning thing is the high amounts of sugar and other preservatives to make it.

Homemade root beers are way much better compared to commercial ones because you can control how much sugar and other ingredients you put in them.

The basic ingredients for it are water, sugar, or molasses, and root beer extracts. It’s up to you if you want to add other ingredients like ice cream, vanilla, and others.

You can experiment with their amounts depending on your taste or follow some recipes you can find online.


Root beer is a type of beverage that has a rich history and good taste. It is a drink that can be enjoyed by people of any age.

Modern root beer sold in your nearby grocery store is non-alcoholic, however, your kids should only drink it in moderation because it contains a lot of sugar and artificial coloring and preservative which could be harmful to their health when taken on a regular basis.

To get more health benefits of root beer for your kids, might as well create a homemade one to limit the amount of artificial flavorings and preservatives they will take.

So, go ahead, have fun, and enjoy your root beers with your family!

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