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Chicory is a plant that looks like a blue dandelion when in bloom. The root of the chicory plant is cultivated and processed as a coffee substitute. In times of coffee shortages throughout history, chicory, which grows beyond the coffee belt, could be cultivated, roasted, ground and mixed with coffee. In the mid-1700s, coffee with a French influence, typically imported through New Orleans, had a chicory additive that imparted body and softened the bitter edge of the dark roasted coffee with a chocolate flavor. This practical solution to a coffee scarcity evolved into a traditional New Orleans beverage.