Pink Lemonade First Got Its Color from Circus Performers' Red Tights

Strawberry Lemonade © Tina Rupp
By Annie Quigley Posted August 21, 2015

Ever stop to wonder why pink lemonade exists, when lemons are definitely never pink? The drink may have originally gotten its pinkish hue from an entirely inedible source.

In this series, we reveal the secrets, histories and quirky bits of trivia behind your favorite foods.

Ever stop to wonder why pink lemonade exists, when lemons are definitely never pink? While today the summertime staple gets its color from strawberries, raspberries, cherries, grenadine or red dye, the drink may have originally gotten its pinkish hue from an entirely inedible source.

One theory of how lemonade first turned pink is that in the mid-1800s, Henry E. Allott, who literally ran away to join the circus at the age of 15, was making lemonade at his concessions stand when he accidentally dumped a box of red cinnamon candies into the vat. Allott decided to sell the rosy-hued concoction, to great success.

But another version of the story is far less palatable. At another circus, concessions salesman Pete Conklin was making lemonade but ran out of water. Searching for more, he went into a nearby tent and found a tub of water in which bareback riders and other performers wrung out their clothes. The water was pink from some red tights, but Conklin used it anyway, bogusly selling it as "fine strawberry lemonade." Conklin doubled his sales that day, and thirsty circus-goers guzzled down the drink, entirely unaware that what they were drinking was lemon-flavored sweaty-tights water.

But don't let that turn you off of pink lemonade; today's versions are tasty, refreshing, and laundry-water-free. Try these refreshing pink or yellow versions to cool off on hot August days.

Related:
Summer Drinks
Fresh Lemonade
America's Wacky Fair Foods

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