Lemonade: A Symbol of Both Capitalism and Perseverance

Lemonade is more than just a refreshing summertime beverage. The drink has been enjoyed as both a refreshment and a symbol for hundreds of years.

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Brianna LeCompte

I still remember attending my first Trivia night back in 2013. A group of my coworkers were discussing some options for happy hour venues and when we saw that a spot down the street was hosting a Trivia Night, we decided to go for it. I was instantly hooked. When the opportunity arose to join the Last Call team, I was ecstatic. Working with a talented and creative team to spread my love of trivia across the country-what could be better! I currently manage sales and outreach in our west coast areas. Outside of work, I love to travel and am also an avid equestrian and Disney movie lover.

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The Rise of Lemonade

 

The original creators of many foods and beverages can be difficult to trace, as similar recipes and competing origin stories often come into play. And lemonade follows the same trend. Lemons are native to Asia, so it is possible that a version of the drink was first concocted in one of the fruit’s countries of origin.

 

But the first recorded account of a lemonade-like drink comes from Egypt around the year 1050 CE. In his writings about the daily lives of Egyptians, Persian poet Nasir-I-Khusraw referenced a beverage made with lemon juice and sugar called “qatarzimat.” His account states that this drink was a popular trade item that was regularly exported to other surrounding countries.

 

Lemonade eventually made its way to Europe via the Ottoman Empire. By the mid-17th century, Rome and Paris were competing to become the lemonade capital of the world. The drink was primarily sold by vendors on street corners, who served it from tanks strapped to their backs. They became so popular in Paris that in 1676, the “limonadiers” incorporated themselves into a guild.

A Lesson In Capitalism

 

In America, lemonade is often thought of as an introduction to capitalism, with children opening stands during their summer vacation. It’s a popular trope that has been depicted in everything from a classic 1950s Norman Rockwell drawing to business simulation computer games.

 

The earliest such simulation game, Lemonade Stand, was included for free on the Apple II computer in 1979. In the game, players determined their success by manipulating simple variables like price and advertising budget. The game’s effective formula led to the future release of several more complex simulators in the future, including the popular Lemonade Tycoon in 2002.


To this day, lemonade is still upheld as a symbol of American initiative and spirit. In fact, Warren Buffett has even said that his lemonade stand taught him one of his first business lessons. When opening his own stand as a child, he decided to place it in front of a friend’s house because there was more foot traffic there.

Lemonade In Pop Culture

 

In addition to the lessons in economics, there are many other references to lemonade in pop culture. Perhaps the most famous is the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The phrase was initially coined by writer Elbert Hubbard in a 1915 obituary he penned and published for actor Marshall Pinckney Wilder.

 

The obituary, entitled The King of Jesters, praised Wilder’s optimistic attitude and achievements, despite the hindrances he experienced due to dwarfism. While the popular phrase has been slightly altered, the original line written by Hubbard was, “He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade stand.”


The beverage – and its underlying meaning – has also become a common inspiration among musicians. Artists like Gucci Mane, Danity Kane, and Blind Melon all have songs titled “Lemonade.” And in 2016, Beyoncé titled her sixth studio album “Lemonade,” as a nod to the poetic meaning behind the drink.

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