Oldtimers are always cautioning you young whippersnappers that X or Y isn’t as good as it used to be. This may really be true of rootbeer. A main ingredient in traditional root beer was Safrole from the sassafras tree, outlawed in 1960 by the FDA because it caused cancer in laboratory rats. Here’s a good webpage about rootbeer. Well it may not taste as good as it used to, but I suppose not causing cancer makes it better.