Iced tea mixed with lemonade certainly makes for a refreshing thirst quencher, especially in the heat of competition on the golf course.
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Early in his illustrious career, Arnold Palmer had a habit of combining the sweet goods at his home to create what has become an influence that goes beyond the golf course. The Hall-of-Famer’s very own tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is set to tee off this week where several participants, including two-time defending champion Tiger Woods, are certain to get their fill of the popular mixed beverage.
Last season, Palmer explained to ESPN as part of the network’s “30 for 30” series how the “Arnold Palmer” came to fruition, saying that his wife would make him iced tea for lunch, but one day decided to add a twist to the drink by adding some homemade lemonade to it and see how it worked.
“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,'" Palmer recalled. “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.'”
But it wasn’t until a woman who was sitting nearby at a Palm Springs restaurant that the drink earned its name. Palmer said the woman had overheard the golf legend ordering his specialty drink and decided to do the same.
“I want an Arnold Palmer," Palmer said the woman told the waitress. “I want what he ordered. And from that day on, it spread like wildfire.”
Indeed, the drink continues to spread like wildfire to this day. Major beverage producer AriZona Beverage Company began distribution of the now famous thirst-quencher in 2002. AriZona currently sells Arnold Palmer half-and-half in 11.5 and 23 ounce cans; 20, 34, and 42 ounce bottles; and 64 ounce and gallon jugs at retail and grocery stores nationwide. Sales have increased more than 10 percent for 10 straight years and profits exceeded $100 million in 2010, giving incentive to how something that started small grew into a global sensation in the sport and in pop culture.
The drink even spawned an ESPN SportsCenter commercial that features Palmer and his caddie making a glass of his ingenious creation – much to the amazement of anchors Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt.
As for which flavor dominates the “Arnold Palmer”, the golf legend was quick and concise in his response.
“Iced tea has the dominant side,” Palmer said. “That dominates the drink. If it doesn’t, then it isn’t really right.”
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