More Than Just a Lemonade Stand
One summer Saturday afternoon, I noticed from my living room window a procession of the neighborhood children lugging items to the street corner: a card table, a patio umbrella, folding chairs, and — there it was — a pitcher of lemonade. My energetic six-year-old neighbor, Massy, was rounding up the kids on our cul-de-sac for a good, old-fashioned lemonade stand. It was the perfect day for a stand — the weather was hot and a steady stream of pedestrians and bicyclists passed by the cul-de-sac, traveling to and from the nearby park. My nine-year-old daughter, who had never had a lemonade stand before, eagerly ran out of our front door to join in.
There were probably six kids involved in the effort — girls, boys, elementary and middle schoolers. Some stirred up lemonade of their own concoction, while the artsy ones in the group drew and posted signs on lamp posts. All participated in the yelling. Shouts of “LEMONADE FOR SALE!!” echoed for blocks. It wasn’t long before the first customer stopped by the stand and exchanged a dollar for a generous pour of lemonade. The kids’ eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning over their sale. They proceeded with palpable enthusiasm to lure in customer after customer.
The bunch jumped, hollered, and sold their homemade icy refreshments all afternoon. At one point, a couple of the older kids headed back to their house to bake muffins, then returned to the stand and sold those too. By dinnertime, the kids were exhausted and proud, having collaborated on a successful lemonade stand that brought them not only hours of outdoor fun, but also $12 in each of their pockets. Talk about an epic play date.
Kids everywhere should have an empowering experience like this, was the thought that filled my head later that evening. As a cookbook author, a mom of two school-aged children, and an entrepreneur with an MBA, I ventured to create a book to help kids have enriching lemonade stands like this one — and all of the incredible learning that comes along with them. One year later, The Lemonade Stand Cookbook was born.
Some might argue that you don’t need a set of recipes or craft instructions to have a valuable lemonade stand experience. Store-bought lemonade and instant drink mix have served kids just fine for decades. But I’m a firm believer that they benefit from even deeper learning when making food from scratch. Just think of all of the math involved in making lemonade — estimating how many lemons will be required, measuring liquid (lemon juice and water) and dry (sugar) quantities, gauging how much lemonade to make and scaling the recipe accordingly. Then, of course, the most fun part: tasting the lemonade and deciding whether it needs to be sweeter or more tart. There’s pride in having created something from scratch, and I want kids to get that benefit.
Any cookbook can present a collection of drinks, treats, snacks, and crafts that are suitable for a lemonade stand, but it was important to me to root The Lemonade Stand Cookbook firmly in the real-life experiences of actual kids as much as possible. Dozens of children shared their firsthand lemonade stand anecdotes — one of my favorites involves offering free guinea pig petting with the purchase of lemonade (“…but not too many people came for that, and the guinea pig got bored”). That’s real! To ensure that kids found the recipes and crafts to be appealing and as easy to follow as possible, more than 40 families tested them and shared their feedback. One tester tried out a recipe for cheddar crackers and, upon tasting his results, commented that they should be called “chompers.” Hence, a recipe for Owen’s Cheddar Chompers appears in the book (and with this article).
As I listened to the kids in my testing pool, I discovered that many of them decided to hold a lemonade stand to raise money for causes that were important to them. A ten-year-old named Ava told me about the stand that she and her scout troop held to raise funds to support a young friend who was battling cancer. Eleven-year-old Sara and her nine-year-old brother Nico sold lemonade to benefit a charity that provides free wheelchairs to people in their community. I included a special spread in The Lemonade Stand Cookbook called “Helping Others, One Glass at a Time” to shine a spotlight on how kids can make a real difference.
It turns out that a lemonade stand can be so much more than just a group of kids selling drinks on the corner. It’s planning and collaboration. It’s cooking and crafting. It’s advertising and customer service. It’s adding sums and making change. Sometimes it’s even helping others. It’s so many valuable life lessons… and yet if you asked any of the kids what it’s like to hold their lemonade stand, without a doubt, they’d sum it all up rather simply: it’s fun.