Make Lemonade A motto and a method.

Make Lemonade A motto and a method.

  • Words George Upton

The proverb “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is understood to have been coined by the American writer Elbert Hubbard in 1915. In his obituary of Marshall Pinckney Wilder, one of the most successful vaudeville performers and a favorite of the British royal family, Hubbard wrote that the actor achieved greatness despite the challenges of being born with dwarfism: “He picked up the lemons that fate had sent him and started a lemonade stand.”

The phrase would come to be refined and popularized over subsequent decades, embodying a particularly American belief in self-made success. Yet the history of making lemonade goes back a lot further than enterprising American children and their 5¢ stands. Medieval Egyptians drank qatarmizat—lemon juice sweetened with sugar—in th...

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