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How Arnold Palmer created the delicious Arnold Palmer

American golfing legend Arnold Palmer beseiged by young autograph hunters. (Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Golf legend Arnold Palmer died over the weekend, and while his many accolades and career highlights have been mentioned, for non-golf fans one may tower over all: Palmer created his own beverage. It’s not, as many might suspect, a cocktail, but the delightful combination of iced tea and lemonade. It’s also, unexpectedly, not a 50/50 split: The perfect Arnold Palmer is two parts iced tea, one part lemonade. The splash of sweetness adds some needed flavor to the iced tea without overpowering it, and… well, let’s just say it’s not a fluke that the Arnold Palmer became legendary at country club golf courses across the country, soon branching out to bars and restaurants.

Many origin stories for the beverage exist, but USA Today helps clear it all up by quoting from Palmer’s 30 For 30 episode. The golfer himself explained:

My wife made a lot of iced tea for lunch, and I said, “Hey, babe, I’ve got an idea. You make the iced tea and make a big pitcher, and we’ll just put a little lemonade in it and see how that works.” We mixed it up, and I got the solution about where I wanted it, and I put the lemonade in it. I had it for lunch after working on the golf course. I thought, “Boy, this is great, babe. I’m going to take it when I play golf. I’m going to take a thermos of iced tea and lemonade.”


The drink eventually became so popular that Palmer sold it to the Arizona Beverage Company 10 years ago; in 2010 the beverage cleared a sweet (but not too sweet) $100 million. There was only one downside for Palmer in all his future country club outings: He loved the drink but felt so foolish ordering a beverage named after himself that he would just describe it instead.

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