You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a satirical article from The Onion: In Multnomah County, Oregon, a seven-year-old girl found herself being informed by health-and-safety inspectors that her lemonade stand needed a $120 license, or she’d be fined $500, reported the Oregonian.
With her lemonade going for 50 cents as a "suggested donation" for every glass, it might take a while for young Julie Murphy to scrape that together.
In an apparently un-ironic statement, Jon Kawaguchi, the environmental health supervisor for Multnomah County Health Department, said "I understand the reason behind what they’re doing and it’s a neighborhood event, and they’re trying to generate revenue. But we still need to put the public’s health first."
The young entrepreneur got the idea from a TV show, so she and her mother went to an art fair in Portland and set up their stand. Soon after she started selling the lemonade, a health inspector came over and told them to leave.
The Oregonian reports that a "big scene" developed, with other local vendors coming over from their booths to support young Julie.
As it happens, Multnomah County chairman Jeff Cogen saw that in this case, prudence was the better part of valor. He apologized on behalf of the over-zealous inspectors and told health department workers to employ "professional discretion."
"A lemonade stand is a classic, iconic American kid thing to do," he told the Oregonian. "I don’t want to be in the business of shutting that down."
Cogen might be a bit late in the damage control, though – search terms related to the lemonade incident surged to the top of Google’s "Hot Topics" list on Friday morning. And the story quickly jumped onto local and national news networks around the country, showing just how quickly one somewhat peculiar story can become famous within hours.
A number of other groups have already jumped on the bandwagon; a local Oregon anarchist, Michael Franklin, is calling for a "Lemonade Revolt," in which residents will come and stake out space on Alberta Street in Portland to set up their own unlicensed lemonade stands at the end of August.
At least no one has started calling it Lemonadegate – yet.