He was selling sarsaparilla in a tent at the fair on Parker’s Piece in Cambridge today. The light in the tent was murky in contrast to the sun shining outside and I wasn’t sure I would get a decent skin tone.

Click the image for a larger version:

man selling sarsaparilla

1/600th second at f1.6


  1. Nice looking chap. But we need to know- did you try the sarsaparilla? Was it real homemade stuff with the root?


    1. He asked whether I wanted to taste it and I said I recalled that it smelled like the antiseptic cream, Germolene. He said it was root beer that tasted like Germolene. Aha, I said, and would you pose for a photo? He said, taste this sarsaparilla, but he only had a small amount left because he had sold out. Come back tomorrow, he said, when I’ll have more.

      It tasted sweet and he gave me a sheet with his phone number and information about where sarsaparilla comes from and what it is used for. I doubt we will go back tomorrow, but I might phone him and get his address and send him a print. I was worried the shot wouldn’t come out because the light was so low in the tent, but it worked out OK.


  2. Tamara says:

    I thought this fellow was full of life and sprightly indeed when we met him yesterday, David, and your photograph does capture his… ‘twinkly-ness’ (poetic license there!).

    As far as the sarsaparilla taste goes, I personally thought it tasted only very, very slightly like root beer. Nothing like the foamy, fabulous, from-the-tap authentic root beer that I remember so fondly drinking as a kid with my family in the USA.

    Who knows, however, maybe the two never do taste that similar. I do not recall if I have ever had sarsaparilla before.

    Fun character, however, whatever the case, and his outfit was super.


    1. I think of sarsaparilla as something from the Old West or early 20th C. Is it still popular in the States?


      1. Tamara says:

        Interesting question, for which I haven’t a clue to the answer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. When I hear the word “saasparilla” (phonetically using movie-speak; ) immediately tales of the old west spring to mind. Yup, and “Howdy Ma’am”. (Not so sure about today though; ) But, I am fairly certain – as with most things hauled by immigrants from one continent to another – that there must have been some reason for taking it with them 😉


  4. He looks like he “knows things” your sarsaparilla vendor; )


    1. Yes indeed. Well said.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then of course, I went on to find out more, and now I don’t just think, but know that he knows a lot of things! (Also might explain his twinkly appearance: )


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