Lemon juice isn’t pink. Water isn’t pink. Sugar isn’t pink. Pink lemonade, then, really has no business being the color that it is. And so it makes sense that, as Smithsonian reports, it likely originated in a place that thrives on the weird and unnatural: the circus. One story holds that a circus vendor dropped cinnamon candies in a vat of yellow lemonade; another says the first batch was accidentally made with the same dirty water a performer had used to wash red tights.
Either way, it doesn’t really matter to us anymore where the drink came from; in the age of rainbow bagels and blue-raspberry-flavored everything, we no longer bat an eye at garish items on the grocery shelf. But pink lemonade’s murky origins raise another question: Why does pink lemonade — and why do all those other weirdly colored foods — have such popular appeal?
In part, it may depend on the color. Pink lemonade, for instance, has what some researchers believe to be a calming appearance: “The color of pink lemonade is relaxing,” environmental psychologist Sally Augustin told Smithsonian. “It’s