14 Tart Facts About Lemonade

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Sweet or tart, pink or yellow, a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade is the perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon. An idyllic symbol of summertime and childhood, the simple drink has a surprisingly rich cultural history. Thirsty folks all over the world have been enjoying lemonade for at least 1000 years, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon—just ask Beyoncé. Kick up your feet and enjoy these refreshing lemonade facts—hammock optional.

1. LEMONADE PROBABLY BEGAN IN ASIA, BUT WAS FIRST RECORDED IN ANCIENT EGYPT.

Lemons originated in China, India, and Myanmar, and it’s safe to assume that some form of sweetened lemon water was first enjoyed in the ancient Far East. But the earliest written record of the beverage comes from Persian poet Nasir-I-Khusraw, who wrote detailed accounts of daily life in Egypt around 1050 CE. The medieval Egyptians’s version of lemon juice and sugar, called qatarzimat, was a valued trade item and was frequently exported to other cultures.

2. PRE-REVOLUTION FRANCE HAD WANDERING LEMONADE PEDDLERS.

As global trade continued to expand, lemons and lemonade became increasingly popular across Europe. The drink took particular hold in Paris, where the Compagnie de Limonadiers was formed in the 1670s. This roving group of street vendors would sell glasses of lemonade to passersby, directly from tanks strapped to their backs. Convenient!

3. “LEMONADE” MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS IN DIFFERENT PLACES.

Across North America as well as in India, “lemonade” refers to that familiar blend of water, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. But order a lemonade in England, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, and you’ll get some bubbles as well; in those countries, “lemonade” refers to carbonated lemon-flavored (or lemon-lime) soft drinks, similar to Sprite. (Pro tip: If you want something more resembling the American version in the UK, ask for a “cloudy lemonade,” but even that can be fizzy.)

4. THE MIDDLE EAST TAKES THEIRS WITH MINT (AS OF LATE).

On a hot day in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, or Jordan, you might reach for a Limonana, a local variation that includes crushed mint leaves. The combination is a classic one, but its status as a regional favorite (and that name) are surprisingly recent. In 1990, as a way of proving the efficacy of their marketing campaigns, the Israeli agency Fogel Levin began advertising the drink on public buses. Although the product didn’t exist, the campaign generated enough buzz that restaurants and soft-drink companies began making their own lemon-mint blends.

5. IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, BUT THERE IS SOME SCIENCE BEHIND LEMONADE.

Just about any iced drink is pleasant on a sweltering day, but food researchers have discovered why lemonade really hits the spot. Sour or tart drinks stimulate our salivary glands, which provides relief to the “dry mouth” feeling we associate with being tired and dehydrated. This effect even continues after you’ve polished off the glass, making lemonade “thirst quenching” in a literal sense.

6. ONE OF OUR MOST POPULAR PROVERBS BECAME WIDESPREAD THANKS TO AN ACTOR’S OBITUARY.

Marshall Pinckney Wilder, second from right. Wikimedia Commons

When life gives you lemons … you know what to do, right? The classic advice to “make lemonade” out of our problems became famous probably thanks to the 1915 obituary for Marshall Pinckney Wilder, who achieved success as an actor, writer, and humorist despite battling dwarfism and related health problems throughout his life. The original version of the phrase, penned by writer Elbert Hubbard, read "He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand.”

But despite what is often said, this was not the first use of the phrase. In 1909, the "Retailers Newspaper" Men's Wear said: "In business turn obstacles into conveniences. When handed a lemon—make lemonade of it." But perhaps the most literal telling of this advice is from the Chicago School of Sanitary Instruction in 1911: "If anyone hands you a lemon, make lemonade of it. It is both healthful and pleasant to take."

7. THE HUMBLE LEMONADE STAND IS MORE THAN 135 YEARS OLD.

It’s an image straight from Norman Rockwell: a few enterprising tykes selling fresh lemonade in the front yard. But lemonade wasn’t always kid stuff. The New York Times first referenced a Wisconsin shopkeeper hawking the drink outside his store in 1879, and by the following summer, stands popped up all around New York City, selling cups for a nickel each. "Before, if a thirsty soul wanted a glass of lemonade on a hot day, he had to go into some bar-room and pay 15 cents for it," the Times reported in July 1880. "Now, at any one of these lemonade-stands—and scores of them have been established—a customer can have a glass of ice-cold lemonade, made before his eyes, for 5 cents.”

8. WE’RE STILL CHARMED BY LEMONADE-STAND ECONOMICS.

Lemonade has proven to be a surprisingly robust subject for business-simulation games. The earliest such example, Lemonade Stand, was included for free on Apple II computers beginning in 1979; players determined their success through manipulating simple variables such as selling price and advertising budget. The game’s accessible formula led to a more complex simulator, Lemonade Tycoon, in 2002, as well as countless board games, educational tools, and apps. You can still play that original version online at Archive.org!

9. ALEX SCOTT TURNED LEMONADE INTO MAJOR MEDICAL AID.

As a 4-year-old battling neuroblastoma (a form of pediatric cancer), Alexandra Scott began selling lemonade outside her family’s Connecticut home to raise money for cancer research. Her first venture raised more than $2000 and inspired other children and adults across the U.S. to join her cause. Alex’s efforts were later featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show, and were the subject of the 2006 documentary Alex Scott: A Stand for Hope. Although Alex passed away at age 8, her vision lives on as Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which to date has raised over $100 million for cancer research.

10. PINK LEMONADE ORIGINATED IN A WASHTUB.

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What gives pink lemonade its distinctive hue? These days, it’s made with a few drops of red food dye, or a splash of strawberry juice. But according to Joe Nickell, author of Secrets of the Sideshows, the invention was a rather unappetizing accident. As the legend goes, circus vendor Pete Conklin had sold his entire stock of regular lemonade, and needed to make more on the spot. Without access to running water or a well, Conklin resorted to using a tub of water that had been tinted pink after being used to wash the red tights of circus performers. Another, slightly more appetizing tale is that circus man Henry Allott was making lemonade when some red cinnamon candies fell in, discoloring his beverages. Bottoms up?

11. ONE OF AMERICA’S GREATEST GOLFERS MIXED HIS WITH TEA.

Bellying up to the bar at the 1960 U.S. Open, golf superstar Arnold Palmer ordered a blend of lemonade and sweet tea, and his name’s been attached to that popular variation ever since. Add vodka to an Arnold Palmer and it becomes a John Daly (a bit of dark humor referencing fellow golfer Daly’s struggle with alcoholism), or for a real kick, swap out the vodka for Everclear—that’s now known as a Happy Gilmore.

12. NO VODKA FOR FIRST LADY "LEMONADE LUCY" THOUGH!

In 1877, in an attempt to curry favor from the Prohibition Party, the White House banned alcohol from all parties and state dinners. Although the decision was made by President Rutherford B. Hayes, his wife, First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes, was a known teetotaler and received the brunt of criticism—as well as the enduring nickname "Lemonade Lucy," which was coined 11 years after her death—from detractors.

13. LEMONADE STANDS HAVE BECOME A HOT-BUTTON ISSUE.

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If your kids are thinking of spending the afternoon hawking lemonade from the front lawn, beware—the “industry” has gotten thornier than you might remember from your youth. Unsuspecting sellers can be slapped with heavy fines for failure to comply with health and safety regulations or local permitting laws. Naturally, the issue has become a flashpoint for critics of government regulation and has led to protests, most notably Lemonade Freedom Day.

14. THE SWEET DRINK HAS INSPIRED SOME SWEET MELODIES.

These days, Google “lemonade” and you’ll get more Beyoncé than beverage. The superstar singer’s “visual album” Lemonade was an instant hit when it was released in April, and it proved that, 100 years after Marshall Pinckney Wilder, the advice to “make lemonade” out of our hardships still resonates. But Bey is hardly the first artist to draw inspiration from the drink—singer G. Love used Lemonade as an album title in 2006, and musicians as diverse as Gucci Mane, Danity Kane, and Blind Melon all have songs of the same title in their repertoire. There's also Lemonade, the dance band from San Francisco, and Lemonade, the Eve Ensler play. One thing’s for sure: Whether you’re drinking lemonade, making it, selling it, or singing about it, no one can get enough of it.

20 Attempts to Describe the Taste of Durian, the World’s Smelliest Fruit

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iStock.com/Worradirek

The durian is a beloved delicacy in Malaysia, Singapore, and other parts of Southeast Asia. Its taste and smell, however, take some getting used to. The creamy fruit is notoriously potent—in fact, it’s so smelly that Singapore’s public transit systems tell passengers not to bring them onto subways or buses. And yet, despite its stinky reputation, it can be found practically everywhere: In curries, cakes, and even ice cream. For visitors, biting into the fruit can be an utterly confusing and contradictory experience. Here are some outsider opinions from the past 400 years.

1. “The flesh is as white as snow, exceeds in delicacy of taste of all our best European fruits, and none of ours can approach it.” —Jacques de Bourges, 17th Century Missionary

2. “Comparisons have been made with the civet cat, sewage, stale vomit, onions, and cheese; while one disaffected visitor to Indonesia declared that the eating of the flesh was not much different from having to consume used surgical swabs.” —The Oxford Companion to Food

3. “Tastes lightly sweet and deeply musky.” —Frommer’s Guide to Malaysia

4. “[I]ts odor is best described as pig-sh*t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.” —Richard Sterling, food writer

5. "To eat it seems to be the sacrifice of self-respect.” —Bayard Taylor, 19th-century Journalist

6. “To anyone who doesn’t like durian it smells like a bunch of dead cats. But as you get to appreciate durian, the smell is not offensive at all. It’s attractive. It makes you drool like a mastiff.” —Bob Halliday, Bangkok-based food writer

7. “Vomit-flavoured custard.” —The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei

8. “The smell of rotten eggs is so overwhelming. I suppress a gag reaction as I take a bite.” —Robb Walsh, food writer

9. “Like all the good things in Nature … durian is indescribable. It is meat and drink and an unrivalled delicacy besides, and you may gorge to repletion and never have cause for penitence. It is the one case where Nature has tried her hand at the culinary art and beaten all the CORDON BLEUE out of heaven and earth.” —a "good friend" of Edmund J. Banfield, Australian Naturalist, as quoted in Banfield's 1911 book My Tropic Isle

10. “[Has a] sewer-gas overtone.” —Maxine E. McBrinn, Anthropologist

11. “Like pungent, runny French cheese … Your breath will smell as if you’d been French kissing your dead grandmother.” —Anthony Bourdain, Chef and Host of Parts Unknown

12. “On first tasting it, I thought it like the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction, but after four or five trials I found the aroma exquisite.” —Henri Mouhot, French Naturalist, in Travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China: Siam, Cambodia, and Laos, During the Years 1858, 1859, and 1860

13. “[Like] eating ice cream in an outhouse.” —As reported in Jerry Hopkins's Strange Foods

14. “I must say that I have never tasted anything more delicious. But not everyone can enjoy or appreciate this strange fruit for the disgusting smell that distinguishes it and that is apt to cause nausea to a weak stomach. Imagine to have under your nose a heap of rotten onion and you will still have but a faint idea of the insupportable odour which emanates from these trees and when its fruit is opened the offensive smell becomes even stronger.” —Giovanni Battista Cerruti, Italian Explorer, in 1908's My Friends the Savages

15. “It tastes like completely rotten mushy onions.” —Andrew Zimmern, Host of Bizarre Foods

16. “Like eating raspberry blancmange in the lavatory.” —Anthony Burgess, Novelist

17. “A rich custard highly flavored with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavor that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes." —Alfred Russel Wallace, 19th-century British Naturalist

18. “You will either be overcome, seduced by its powerful, declarative presence, or reject it outright. And run screaming." —Monica Tan, The Guardian Journalist

19. “Carrion in custard.” —A “Governor of the Straits” quoted in 1903's Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive

20. “Yes, I freely admit that when ripe it can smell like a dead animal. Yes, the fruit is difficult to handle, bearing likeness to a medieval weapon. But get down to the pale yellow, creamy flesh, and you’ll experience overtones of hazelnut, apricot, caramelized banana and egg custard. That’s my attempt at describing durian. But words fail; there is no other fruit like it.” —Thomas Fuller, New York Times Journalist

What Is Nougat?

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iStock.com/InaTs

If you've ever had a Snickers, Three Musketeers, or Milky Way bar, you know what nougat tastes like. The sweet, creamy concoction can range in texture from chewy to fluffy, and it is the star ingredient in many popular candy bars. But aside from being delicious, what is nougat exactly?

In its simplest form, nougat is made of two basic ingredients: egg whites and a sweetener, traditionally sugar or honey. The signature texture comes from how it's prepared. Like a meringue, eggs and sugar are whipped together quickly until the mixture is aerated and stiff.

Nougat predates mass-produced candy bars, with the confection originating in the Middle East around the 8th century. It spread to southern Europe and gained widespread popularity in 17th-century France. Nougat is still a common component in many Middle Eastern desserts today, and torrone, a type of nougat containing nuts like almonds and pistachios, is enjoyed in Italy around Christmastime.

As more large candy companies have embraced nougat, its quality has suffered over the years, with corn syrup often standing in for the sweetener. But you don't need to head to the candy aisle of your local supermarket to get your nougat fix. If you have eggs and honey in your kitchen, you can make nougat at home today.

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