As fans continue to mourn Arnold Palmer—the legendary golfer, who died Sunday night at the age of 87—the King leaves behind an impressive resume, winning 93 tournaments worldwide, including four Masters, one U.S. Open, and two British Opens. He is largely credited with expanding the world of professional golf, transforming the sport from a country club pastime into a spectacle of television cameras and celebrity.
But beyond what Palmer accomplished on the golf course, in the wake of his death, fans are remembering the King for another gift he bestowed upon the masses: his signature, eponymous blend off iced tea and lemonade. Among younger generations, those who missed the heyday of Palmer's career in the 1960s and 70s, he is perhaps more famous for having his face emblazoned across a tall can of Arizona half-and-half than his famed rivalry with Jack Nicklaus.
Though legends about the drink have existed for decades—that Palmer invented it at the dining hall of his alma mater, Wake Forest, or stumbled upon by mistake "like penicillin"—in a short documentary for ESPN's 30 for 30 in 2012, the man behind the mixture finally set the record straight.
"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.'"
Palmer began ordering the drink while on tour, asking his servers for a splash of lemonade in his iced tea. The beverage was given Palmer's name—and began to garner wider appeal—after a woman overheard the golfer's order at a restaurant in Palm Springs in the late 60s. "I want an Arnold Palmer," the woman said, according to the documentary. "I want what he ordered."
As USA Today notes, the rights to the drink were acquired by the Arizona Beverage Co. in 2010 for more than $100 million dollars, sky tottering the drink's popularity into bodegas, gas stations, and convenience stores around the country. And while on Sunday night fans pod their respects across social media, many of the tributes mentioned having an Arnold Palmer in the King's memory.
[via USA Today]