In this series, we reveal the secrets, histories and quirky bits of trivia behind your favorite foods.
When did iced tea become a go-to summer thirst-quencher? It all happened one particularly stifling-hot day during the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. While cold tea had been enjoyed for decades previously and the technology for making and preserving ice (a crucial element for putting the 'ice' in 'iced tea') had been around for a few years, it wasn't until that sticky, sweaty, fateful day in St. Louis that the stars aligned and iced tea as we know it became popular.
As the story goes, Englishman Richard Blechynden was handing out hot tea to fairgoers—or, at least, he was trying to. Understandably, interest in hot tea was at an all-time low due to the disgusting heat. But Blechynden didn't give up. He craftily poured the tea over ice and transformed his enterprise into an iced-tea stand. The cooling drink has been quenching thirsts on steamy summer days ever since.