Even the circus has had a starring role in lemonade's long history. By the 19th century, both ice and the traveling circus had hit the scene and both were taking off. The first known mention linking pink lemonade to the circus comes from West Virginia's Wheeling Register in 1879. Circus lore has many tales of how its lemonade turned pink, but historians find two of them most viable. One story from 1912 goes like this: A concession worker "invents" pink lemonade when he accidentally drops red-colored cinnamon candies into a vat of regular lemonade. In proverbial "the show must go on" style, he serves the lemonade anyway and the people lap it up.
The other story, from 1857, is just plain gross: A harried concession worker, in need of water to make a fresh batch of lemonade for an impatient line of thirsty rubbernecks, grabs the first liquid he sees and it turns out to be a tub of wash water in which a performer has just wrung out her dirty pink tights. He uses it to make his new-and-improved "strawberry lemonade" and the crowd goes wild. Story has it that from then on sales doubled and henceforth no top notch circus was ever without pink lemonade.
Tart or sweet, pink or yellow, clear, cloudy or carbonated, what better way to face the world head-on than with a cold glass of nature's whoopass in hand? Lemonade abides as the classic metaphor for good old American stick-to-itiveness, making-do and pluck. So lemons, you do you. Life, we've got this.
Originally Published: May 30, 2018