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Pink Lemonade: The Story Behind Its Pink Color

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Pink lemonade doesn't really make any sense, if you think about it. Lemons are yellow, yet this lemon-based beverage is pink. Some people assume that there are red-colored berries responsible for this oddity; this is sometimes true, but usually not -- and that's certainly not how it was originally invented.

We're not here to ruin this perfectly good summertime beverage for you. Pink lemonade is sometimes colored with cranberry juice, raspberry juice or crushed strawberries, but it's more often colored with red food dye. This may come as a surprise to some, but it's a vast improvement from the way it was dyed when first appearing on the beverage scene in the mid 1800s.

According to Josh Chetwynd, author of the book, "How the Hot Dog Found Its Bun," there are two main claims to the title of pink-lemonade inventor -- and neither of them sound very thirst-quenching. The first attributes this beverage to a salesman, by the name of Pete Conklin, who sold concessions at the circus. When working a shift in 1857, he ran out of water to make his lemonade (with no access to a nearby well or spring).

Rather than lose out on business, "Pete sprinted into the dressing tent and came across Fannie Jamieson, one of the show’s bareback riders. She had just cleaned her pink tights in a vat of water, leaving the liquid looking a deep pink hue." He used the water without a second thought, and sold it as "fine strawberry lemonade." It's reported that he "did double the business of ordinary refreshment and, allegedly, ushered in a new style of the drink."

The second claim to pink-lemonade fame is also a result of a lemonade mishap. According to a 1912 New York Times article, Henry E. Allott -- a circus promoter, saloon-keeper and gambler -- was the originator of this drink. "One day while mixing a tub full of the orthodox yellow kind he dropped some red cinnamon candies in by mistake,” the newspaper wrote. “The resulting rose-tinted mixture sold so surprisingly well that he continued to dispense his chance discovery.” This article, written after Allott had passed away, claims that he invented this drink as a teenager, which would date it to roughly 1872-1873 -- 20 years after Conklin's story.

Now that you know pink lemonade's shady history, how do you feel about this beverage? Leave a comment!

WATCH: How To Make Raspberry And Lavender Lemonade

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