For centuries of global history, lemonade’s held a sweet spot in the hearts of beverage-lovers across the globe. Everyone knows the adage: when life gives you lemon, make lemonade. Little else embodies the value of resilience and sticking it out when things get rough. While we’re all accustomed to this folksy wisdom, few of us know where the sour fruit took root. How did lemons reach their modern heights of popularity and sweetness in the form of our favorite drink? Explore the highlights of lemonade’s long and rich history with a timeline of its course across the globe - brought to you by Colorado’s Best Drinks.
Nobody is totally certain as to the exact origin story of lemons themselves. However, the science journal Nature conducted a study in 2018 that helped to clarify their roots. According to this research, fossilized leaves in China’s Yunnan province shows that citrus has existed for 8 million years – since the late Miocene epoch.
Kashkab, lemonade’s precursor, dates back to medieval Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. Kashkab was blended from fermented barley, black pepper, rue and citron leaf.
Poet and traveler Nasir-i-Khushraw was known for his chronicled accounts of 10th-century Egyptian life. Between these works and the Jewish books and documents found in the Cairo Genizah, modern researchers have gained valuable insights into the culture and daily experiences of medieval Jewish life. Through these resources, we’ve learned that the medieval Jewish community found in Cairo regularly enjoyed qatarmizat, a sugary lemon-juice concoction. This early version of lemonade was traded and exported through the 13th century.
There’s no proof that lemons existed in this region in pre-Islamic years, but the general consensus in the historical community deems it likely that citron (a larger version of lemons) was prevalent. Mosaic imagery of Rome and frescoes of Pompeii depict citrus fruits resembling lemons and oranges, but there’s no written or paleobotanical evidence of their existence in that time period in either region.
The earliest written evidence of lemons’ existence is in Qustus al-Rumi’s 10th-century Arabic book on farming. In the late twelfth century, Muslim leader Saladin’s personal physician wrote an exposition on the lemon, bringing the fruit to the attention of a broader audience across the Mediterranean.
Lemonade made a splash on Paris with its debut in August of 1630. The original blend was a carefully concocted combination of lemon juice, honey and sparkling water. Vendors of the day strapped tanks of lemonade to their backs and walked around Paris, selling cup by cup to the thirsty Parisian public. We’re thankful there’s a better way to buy lemonade today. While lemonade ultimately made its way through Europe as a novelty beverage, no other community cherished lemonade quite like Paris - where lemonade reached the peak of style and status. Lemonade vendors eventually formed a union in 1676 called Compagnie de Limonadiers due to the industry’s rampant growth. The widespread sale of lemonade even helped protect Parisians from the plague.
As we’ve discussed, British chemist Joseph Priestley designed an apparatus enabling the manmade manufacture of carbonated water. By the 1780s, Johann Schweppe created a new method of carbonation with a compression pump, increasing the ease of mass production. Both Schweppe and Priestley paved the way for the 1830s innovation of fizzy lemonade, which sent lemonade sales rising higher than ever.
Lemonade reached America in the nineteenth century, ushered in with waves of immigrants from France and surrounding countries. The women’s temperance movement pushed lemonade as a tasty alternative to alcohol in the Victorian era. One propagandist motto of the day proclaimed “Good-bye to liquor, here’s to lemonade.”
Alcohol was banned at state dinners and all other White House functions from 1877 to 1881, under the administration of Rutherford B. Hayes. While Hayes himself made this call to gain the favor of the Prohibitionist party, critics soured on his wife and disparagingly dubbed her “Lemonade Lucy.”
Both ice and the traveling circus joined lemonade’s long journey in the early 1900s. Pink Lemonade was first linked to the circus in the West Virginia Wheeling Register in 1879. How did this happen? Two popular stories attempt to explain pink lemonade’s introduction. The first version took hold in 1857 – explaining that a weary circus worker grabbed the first batch of liquid he could find to calm and restless crowd of customers. It happened to be a tub of dirty water, in which a dancer had just washed and wrought her dirty pink tights. Undeterred, the vendor mixed in the remaining ingredients to save time, rather than get fresh water – and the crowd went wild for his ”strawberry lemonade.” Sales were said to have doubled, and circuses were certain to stock up on pink lemonade from that day forward.
Don’t let that folklore sour you on lemonade itself. The second version is a little sweeter. In the prevailing anecdote of 1912, a concession worker accidentally dropped red-colored cinnamon candies into a vat of regular lemonade, turning the entire blend pink. Since the show must go on at the circus, he sold the pink lemonade anyway, and customers couldn’t get enough.
From the streets of Paris to America’s earliest circus stands, lemonade has hit the spot for centuries of history across the globe. Sparkling CBD Lemonade packs the perfect pairing of sweet and tart flavors, with a careful combination of natural lemon extracts and organic agave nectar. Better yet, there are only five natural ingredients and 100 calories per can. Colorado's Best Drinks' sparkling soda is the perfect choice to unwind at the end of your workday. Order a twelve-pack of lemonade today for just $50 or a 48-pack for $180 - with free shipping right to your door!