Last year, not seconds after putting the final touches on what I certain was The Lemon Bar To End All Lemon Bars, a recipe intended for that little cookbook I wrote, I couldn’t quite change the station and became immediately absorbed in making something I wanted to call a pink lemonade bar. They’d be as awesome as a summer carnival, the kind that rolls into town with sketchy rides that your parents forbid you to go on but you do so anyway (or so a friend once told me!), or maybe a play date at the friends house whose mom served prettier, thus cooler, lemonade than what you had at home. I had great plans for these bars, I just had one tiny problem: I had no idea what made pink lemonade pink.
I don’t mean that I am naive; I was aware that in 99 percent of the iterations of pink lemonade out there, the pink was supplied by food dye. I was also bummed to learn that some other people had thought to make pink lemonade bars first — being the type who still clings to the silly notion that there are new, uncharted waters to bake our ways through — but the vast majority of the recipes called for red food dye too. Surely, before pink lemonade was made with red food dye, it was made with a fruit of sort, like strawberry or raspberry or cherries, right? Since last summer, this article has been written but even it doesn’t come to a singular conclusion as to what should make pink lemonade pink. The only thing that is apparent among its discussions of clothing dye and red hot candies is that if you can make it with something natural and/or tasty, you’re probably improving upon its lineage.