A short history of dandelion and burdock

Dandelion and burdock is a rather old-fashioned British drink which has its origins in the 13th century. Today’s versions are many and varied, but let us first take a look back at the origins of this classic.

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St Thomas Aquinas

It is said that around 1265 he made a drink with ingredients he found in the hedgerow, praying to God for inspiration. This first version would have been much less sweet than the drink we know today, with just a touch of honey. There also would have been a brewed drink with a small percentage of alcohol. It is closely related to root beer which is made in America.

Why soft drinks?

Today, there is a big move towards drinking both bottled and tap water for health reasons. Alcohol and soft drinks have always been popular throughout history for reasons of problems with water safety. In days gone by it was much more sensible to drink water with added sugar and turned into alcohol. For an interesting brief history and video clip on this topic take a look at http://www.britishsoftdrinks.com/Soft-Drinks-History.

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Ben Shaws’ drinks

This company was founded in 1871, at which time carbonated drinks were becoming popular. Ben Shaws started making dandelion and burdock in 1898 and it was popular throughout the early 20th Century. This company’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest company to have continuously produced dandelion and burdock. In 1959 it was also the first company to put the drink into cans. Although coca cola was first produced in 1892 it did not start to seriously rival dandelion and burdock until the 1950s.


Our love of all things from yesteryear means that many companies have taken to producing dandelion and burdock and it is once again at the forefront of soft drinks choices. The packaging chosen is deliberately traditional and takes us back to our childhood. For a quick fix and for pubs and cafes, post mix suppliers are popular for drinks production. A big range is available with Empire UK post mix suppliers.

Today, there is so much choice if you are a fan of dandelion and burdock or want to try it for the first time. As well as Ben Shaws, there are versions available from Barr, Asda, Fentimans and Breckland Orchard.

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