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Ginger ale has garnered widespread affection in households worldwide, however, its popularity often holds a unique significance within the Black community. Among Black families, ginger ale is a staple at family dinner gatherings and often serves as a go-to remedy for nausea or colds. Its effervescence and soothing qualities have solidified its status as a preferred refreshment. But what lies behind this cultural affinity? 

Some experts say there’s historical significance behind Black folks’ love for the fizzy drink.


Hoodoo and Ginseng.

Per the Smithsonian, inside The Slave Narratives, a vast archive obtained by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) between 1936 and 1938, historians at the museum found evidence of enslaved and formerly enslaved individuals in the Western Appalachia area using ginseng, a close cousin of ginger, as a medicinal remedy to alleviate fevers and ailments. They wrapped afflicted individuals in ginseng leaves to alleviate discomfort. Our ancestors were spot on because research shows that ginseng can be used to build immunity.

According to the archive, enslaved and those formerly in servitude would often sell ginseng to earn income. 

Hoodoo, a spiritual practice that melds preexisting African religions with Southern African American culture, may also be connected to Black people’s love for ginger ale. Born out of necessity during the Transatlantic Slave Trade era, Hoodoo served as a means of resistance and empowerment for enslaved African people. 

Rooted in the belief that herbs and roots possess their own unique energies and properties, Hoodoo practitioners would often use ginseng to help men increase “sexual prowess,” the Smithsonian noted. It was also believed to have properties within the root that could help Black people develop “good luck.”


Ginger health benefits.

Ginger ale has always been a cost-efficient approach for solving thirst or the worst common cold for many Black households due to its affordability and accessibility, but ginger is known to contain some powerful properties that can help with everything from reducing inflammation to alleviating migraines, according to John Hopkins Medicine. The healing powers of ginger are thanks to a natural component found within the root called Gingerol, which is beneficial for digestion and can help to protect against free radicals.

Commercially available ginger ale frequently includes preservatives such as citric acid and sodium benzoate, along with artificial caramel color, which may not align with a healthy lifestyle. However, if you’re seeking a healthier option, you can craft your own ginger ale at home using natural ingredients like ginger water, lemon and carbonated water. Take a look at this recipe for ideas.

Perhaps most importantly, ginger ale symbolizes community and connection. Sharing a bottle of ginger ale with loved ones fosters bonds and creates cherished memories. Whether it’s raising a toast to celebrate achievements or simply enjoying each other’s company, ginger ale has a way of bringing people together.

The love for ginger ale within Black communities is multi-faceted and deeply rooted in tradition, culture and history. Its taste, cultural connections, historical significance, perceived health benefits and ability to foster community all contribute to its enduring popularity. So, the next time you crack open a cold bottle of ginger ale, take a moment to savor not just its flavor, but the rich tapestry of experiences and traditions that make it a beloved beverage in Black households everywhere!


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