The History of Lemonade Stands

by Amanda Hermes; Updated September 26, 2017
The History of Lemonade Stands

Ever set up a lemonade stand when you were a kid? The popular drink booths have come to be associated with entrepreneurship and a child's first business venture, since kids often set them up during the summer to earn extra money. Although they weren't first established by kids, they are now a common activity for youngsters all over the country.

A Popular Treat

Lemonade stands were first referenced in news media by the New York Times 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.

Easing the Summer Heat

In 1880, a 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, as opposed to the 15 cents charged in a bar.

Kids Running Their Own Stands

The Times also reported children setting up stands in 1880 as an easy means of making money. The Globe and Mail first mentioned lemonade stands as a summer activity for children in 1898.

Young Entrepreneur

Prior to the New York City stands, one of the earliest documented lemonade stands was operated by Edward Bok from 1873 to 1876. He was ten 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.

Lemonade for Charity

Alex's Lemonade Stand began in 2000 in Philadelphia to raise money for a four-year old girl with cancer. Alex, the young patient, set up a stand in her front yard, and soon, people all over the nation were setting up their own stands to help fulfill her dream of finding a cure for childhood cancer. The effort has since raised $25 million nationwide for children's cancer research.

An Ice Cold Thief

In a strange twist, a girl in Terre Haute, Indiana was robbed while running her own lemonade stand in June 2008. A man made off with $17.50, but the girl chased him into a nearby house and called police. He was later arrested.

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About the Author

Amanda Hermes has been a freelance writer since 2009. She writes about children's health, green living and healthy eating for various websites. She has also been published on EdutainingKids.com, Parents Tips Blog and Weekly Woof Blog and she has worked as a ghostwriter for parenting articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Texas.

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