The internet is full of fabulous facts about everything from current events to the history basket weaving. Because of this, as we research for our daily content on food trucks, food carts and street food, we stumble upon some items of knowledge that we just did not know. We have decided when these fun facts pop up, that we would share them with our readers in our section titled “Did You Know?”
For today’s Did You Know fun food facts we will look at Licorice.
The Facts: Licorice is not a recent discovery. The ancient Egyptians used it as a pharmaceutical, and copious supplies were found in King Tut’s tomb. Egyptian hieroglyphics record the use of licorice as a popular beverage among the men of the time.
- Manuscripts from 360 A.D. talk of licorice helping eye ailments, skin diseases, coughs, and loss of hair. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar are on record as endorsing the benefits of eating licorice. Since the 14th century, it has been used to soothe coughs, colds, and bronchitis.
- April 12th is National Licorice Day.
- Modern licorice candy dates from 17th century Holland.
- The licorice plant, a shrub, is officially a weed. It is about four feet tall with purplish flowers and grows in hot, dry places.
- Licorice root is one of the most popular herbs in the world. Its botanical name comes from the Greek words meaning “sweet root.”
- The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Hindus recognized the natural medicinal qualities of licorice.
- Licorice root is a botanical ingredient in modern Chinese medicines used to manage cancers. Current research conducted at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, supports the use of licorice in the treatment of prostate and breast cancer.
- In the United States, anise seed is a popular substitute flavoring for licorice. Although the anise seed has an unmistakable licorice flavor, it is not related to the European plant whose roots are the source of true licorice.
- Napoleon Bonaparte found licorice soothing during battle; he allegedly ate so much of it that his teeth turned black. (Don’t worry. The amount of licorice found in most of today’s licorice candy will not discolor your teeth.)