Its cultivation in North America began in the 1700's and ended in about 1950 when it became more economical to import chicory. During that time, chicory escaped cultivation and spread throughout the United States.
Chicory was utilized as a medicine for a wide range of health conditions, adopted as a coffee substitute by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, used to make a yellow dye with the flowers and blue dye with the leaves and also as a food crop for people and livestock.
Most parts of the plant are edible. Chicory leaves, often found in salads, are also known as endive, frisée, escarole or radicchio. The chicory tap root can be roasted and brewed as a caffeine free coffee substitute, or it can also be boiled and eaten like a vegetable.