When Life Hands You Lemons

| July 1, 2010

Katy children with their lemonade stands. Dates unknown.

Make lemonade! Kids often set up lemonade stands and whether it’s fresh-squeezed, store-bought or from a mix, lemonade is a hot seller in the summer months.

As the weather gets warmer, more youngsters will be heading to the sidewalk to set up their stands and, along the way, learn valuable lessons about business.

One of the earliest documented lemonade stands was operated by Edward Bok from 1873 to 1876. He was 10 years old when he began selling ice water for a penny to passengers in horse drawn carts who stopped to allow their horses water. Other boys soon began copying Bok’s idea and stealing his business, so he made lemonade and sold it for three cents a glass instead.

But lemonade booths weren’t just a children’s venture. In 1879, a shopkeeper in New York City erected a stand outside his store and sold lemonade to passersby. The stand was so popular that a little crowd gathered there each day and blocked the sidewalk, leading authorities to intervene. An 1880 New York Times article mentioned “scores” of lemonade stands cropping up all over the city during the hot summers where patrons could buy a glass of freshly-made lemonade for 5 cents. Lemonade cost 15 cents in bars and restaurants, so it was a bargain.

By 1898, lemonade stands were popular with children and have been a summer activity for young entrepreneurs ever since. Lemonade stands have also become big business. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation started in 2000, with an idea by Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who was diagnosed with childhood cancer just before her first birthday. When she was 4, she set up a front-yard lemonade stand with plans to give the money to doctors to help them find a cure for cancer. She raised $2,000 in one day. While bravely fighting her own cancer, Alex continued to set up lemonade stands every year until her death in 2004. Today, the ALSF has raised more than $12 million from lemonade stands.
In 2006, Michael Holthouse, a Houston-based businessman decided that lemonade stands were a pretty effective early intro into the world of entrepreneurship. Houston was the site of Holthouse’s first Lemonade Day in which children are set up with a kit and plan to operate a stand and learn about business. This year there were more than 80,000 stands in 14 states.

Sunkist offers lemonade stands to children between the ages of 7 and 12 who commit to donate a portion of their proceeds to the cause of their choice. For more information on lemonade stands, visit www.sunkist.com/takeastand.
The venture can range from a simple table to an elaborate booth, so let’s help the kids who make the effort this summer. When you see a lemonade stand, stop by for a treat with some history.

Katy children with their lemonade stands. Dates unknown.

Life Magazine, June 18, 1956.

Category: Katy Texas History, More Features

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