There are few things more refreshing than a cool glass of lemonade on a hot, humid summer day. The summer afternoons are long, especially in this age of quarantine, and the opportunities for restaurant reviews are limited, so a pair of journalists for Cleveland.com, Brenda Cain and Yadi Rodriguez, decided to amuse themselves by ranking 95 different lemonades.
Did you know there were 95 different brands of lemonade? Neither did I. So I have to admire the thoroughness of these journalists. It looks like they did a complete canvass of supermarkets in northeast Ohio to find every single available lemonade, and then they subjected each one to a rigorous taste test and ranking system: “We each tasted, took notes and independently assigned a ranking of one to five — with five being the highest score. Once our scores were added together, we ranked the lemonades based on a combination of our combined scores and comments.” They also note the percentage of actual juice: if you’re drinking lemonade, you don’t want something primarily made from water that contains no lemon juice at all.
The whole experiment raised a whole bunch of questions for me: Is there that much variation among store-bought lemonades, even if you allow for mixing with other fruit juices and iced tea? Did their taste buds experience lemon fatigue? After the first dozen or so, did every lemonade start to taste the same? Did they experience any existential quandaries, like I don’t even know what lemonade is anymore? (That happened to me when I did a root beer taste test, and I only tried 13 root beers.) Can they even stand to look at lemonade now? Those are the answers I was looking for, but Cain and Rodriguez are strictly business and presented only the rankings.
I don’t want to spoil things for you all too much, but since Cain and Rodriguez mentioned it in their introduction, I don’t think it’s wrong of me to say that the two best lemonades in Cleveland turned out to be squeezed by one particular grocery store. But there are five national brands in the top 10, so you, too, can avail yourself of this list, even if you don’t live in northeast Ohio. And if you’re a fan of lemonade, you should do them the favor of looking at this list. They tasted 95 lemonades for you!