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Ever wondered what exactly pink lemonade is, and how it’s made? Find out everything you need to know, including how it might have been invented—and how to make it at home.
It’s a rose-tinted beverage made from lemon juice, sugar, water, and some sort of red or pink dye (natural or artificial) for coloring.
Real pink lemons, called variegated pink-fleshed Eureka lemons, do exist. But pink lemonade usually isn’t made with their juice.
You can make pink lemonade by adding your food coloring of choice to regular lemonade. Natural food colorings typically used include cranberry juice, grenadine, and crushed raspberries or strawberries. You can even use beets for a naturally pink lemonade on the more vibrant end of the color spectrum!
Our Easy Pink Lemonade recipe uses raspberry syrup (so you get a bonus sweet-tart boost of flavor along with the blushing color):
The pink drink first appeared in the United States around the mid-1800s, though its origins and inventor are sometimes disputed. In one story, red cinnamon hearts accidentally were added to a batch of lemonade at a carnival concession (in which case, they’d have something in common with candy apples).
But according to carnival historian Joe Nickell in his 2005 book “Secrets of the Sideshows,” a man named Pete Conklin who ran a circus lemonade and peanut concession actually was the one who invented the drink. One day in 1857, while Conklin was making regular lemonade, he ran out of water. In desperation, he used the pink water from a tub that one of the bareback riders had used to wash her red tights. Unfazed, Conklin added some lemon slices and sold the concoction as “strawberry lemonade,” promptly doubling his sales. As they say, when life gives you lemons…
It’s a good (if gross) story, but regardless of the actual origin of pink lemonade, it remains a delightful summer refresher today, and is easy to make with far more palatable ingredients!