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Why the Arnold Palmer is more than iced tea with lemonade

Known as the King of Golf, legendary athlete Arnold Palmer died Sunday at the age of 87. He’s best-known as a golfer, but probably his second-most significant contribution to the world is the drink he invented that now carries his name: iced tea with lemonade.

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Of course Palmer wasn’t the first person ever to add lemonade to iced tea. More likely he was simply the most famous person to do it. But that combo and its popularity sure does say a lot about the man and what he represented.

Palmer became a professional golfer at a time when the sport belonged to wealthy country clubbers — he came from a more working-class background in Pennsylvania. His dad was the pro and head groundskeeper at a country club and taught his son the game. The young golfer was unlike anyone else playing golf at the time — larger, built like a linebacker, with his own eccentric swings. His charisma and everyman appeal made him a star and turned golf into a much more accessible and popular game.

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So it would be a change agent like Palmer who would take two classic drinks — iced tea and lemonade — and think to mix them together. He was all about defying orthodoxy and mixing things up.

So a toast to Arnold Palmer today. May he rest in peace, and may he inspire us all to be change agents in our own ways.

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