Cool lemonade

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Jul 02, 2013 - 02:16 PM

What can be more refreshing on a hot summer day than a cool glass of lemonade? And what can be more American than getting your cool glass of lemonade from a lemonade stand, a recognized symbol of capitalism, and in particular entrepreneurship, that is operated by youngsters?

In Mathews recently, Lauren Johnson and Sydney Mathers, both four years old, opened their very first lemonade stand and operated it for three hours.

Lemonade itself dates to the Egyptians although the lemon tree came from the Far East. They created lemonade more than 1,500 years ago and called it "gatamizat." Of course it’s unknown if they ever established lemonade stands, but it is documented that in this country, Edward Bok operated lemonade stands from 1876 to 1878. He was 10 years old when he began selling ice water for a penny to passengers in horse-drawn carts, which were stopped to give their horses water.

Other boys began copying his idea and stealing his business, so Bok made lemonade instead and sold it for three cents a glass. It is also known that lemonade stands were first referenced by news media in the New York Times in 1879. A shopkeeper in New York City had a stand outside his store, selling lemonade to those passing by.

In 1880 the newspaper mentioned the stands again: "Scores of lemonade stands are cropping up all over the city during the hot summer. Patrons can buy a glass of freshly-made lemonade for 5 cents as opposed to the 15 cents charged in a bar." It also reported children setting up stands in 1880. The Globe newspaper mentioned lemonade stands as a summer activity for children, in 1889.