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Ice Cold Lemonade on a Hot Summer Day

Mug of lemonade

Last month’s blog on Iced Tea got me thinking about other thirst quenching drinks for hot summer days, and Lemonade is every bit as common as Iced Tea as a summer beverage.

Nimbu Pani

Lemons and sugarcane, two prime ingredients for lemonade, are native to India where people mix a beverage called Nimbu Pani. The ingredients include simple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, cold water, toasted and crushed cumin seeds, and sea salt for the rim of the glass.

Street vendor selling beverages

In 1630 a lemonade made from sparkling water, lemon juice, and honey appeared in Paris. Vendors sold it in cups filled from a container strapped to their backs. Needless to say, the cups weren’t washed between customers. The beverage proved so popular, the vendors united in an organization called Compagnie de Limonadiers.

There wasn’t much technical change in the recipe until the 1830s when Schweppes introduced a carbonated lemonade.

Lemonade retains its popularity, because of its ability to quench thirst. Sour drinks, such as an unsweetened lemonade, stimulate salivation, which moistens the dry mouth caused by thirst and dehydration. The benefit continues after the drink is finished, thereby quenching thirst.

In America the introduction of lemonade coincided with the Temperance Movement’s efforts to provide non-alcoholic beverages for a thirsty public. Lemonade was a popular at fairs and other public events, as well as on the front porch.

Since the 19th century, Americans have preferred what is called cloudy lemonade, a non-carbonated drink made with fresh lemon juice. However, pink lemonade is also popular. Generally, the color comes from added fruit juices or food coloring. There is, however, a fanciful story about the origins of pink lemonade that might even be true.

Bareback rider with two horses

In 1857 a man named Pete Conklin mixed lemonade to sell at his circus beverage stall. One day he ran out of water and was in a rush to mix the next batch for his thirsty customers. He grabbed the nearest tub of water and added it to his mixture. What he didn’t realize was that the circus bareback rider had rinsed her pink tights in the tub. He sold the pink liquid as strawberry lemonade, and later claimed sales increased by 100 percent.

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes on his Inauguration Day

Temperance supporters got another boost when President Rutherford B. Hayes took office in 1877. Hayes banned alcoholic beverages at all White House functions. Journalists claimed the person responsible was really his wife who was known for her temperance position. After Hayes left office, Lucy became known as Lemonade Lucy.

Progressive produces made with Sunkist lemons

In 1907 California Citrus Growers formed a cooperative called the California Fruit Growers Exchange, and sold their products under the brand name Sunkist. To encourage consumers to buy their products, they coined the slogan: Good-bye to liquor, here’s to lemonade.

After absorbing all this information about lemonade, you might want to mix up a batch. Divas Can Cook has a quick and easy way to make lemonade at home. 

  1. Wash lemons thoroughly, so you can zest the rind.
  2. Roll lemons firmly on a hard surface until they become soft. This will make them easier to juice.
  3. Zest 2-3 lemons. Set aside
  4. In a pot over medium heat, add sugar, lemon zest and 2 cups of water.
  5. Simmer lightly for about 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolves and the mixture has a light yellow color. Do not boil.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Juice the lemons.
  8. Strain the lemon juice into a large pitcher.
  9. Strain the sugar mixture into the large pitcher.
  10. Add in 4 cups of cold water.
  11. Fill chilled glasses with ice & pour in the lemonade

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Illustrations

Mug of Lemonade by Adryan R. Villanueva

Nimbu Pani by Archana Joshi

Lemonade seller in Berlin 1931 by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2004-0701-502 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Bareback Rider.

President & Mrs Rutherford B Hayes. 1870

Lemon crate label, Progressive Brand, Lehmann Printing and Lithographing Co., Crate, can, and bottle label collection, Kemble Spec Col 08, courtesy, California Historical Society, Kemble Spec Col 08_035.jpg.

Lucy Ware Webb Hayes. White House

Carrie Tatro. “The Fascinating History of Lemonade.” How Stuff Works. May 30, 2020

Kathleen Williams. “When Life Hands You Lemons.” History. Aug 22, 2018

Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright is the author of Two Coins: A Biographical Novel and Rama's Labyrinth. Both books are available in digital and print editions at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. Rama’s Labyrinth and Two Coins are available as audiobooks.

Sandra blogs weekly about topics related to her travels, writing life, and the incongruities of life in general.

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