Dear Crabby, When Did Selling Lemonade Become a Crime?

Dear Crabby,

Whew. It looks like summer has finally found us. I have so many fond memories of playing with the neighborhood kids from daylight to dusk. You know, running through sprinklers, playing tag, and not so patiently waiting for the ice cream truck to arrive. That’s why I was so surprised to learn that kids today apparently can’t have lemonade stands without the proper paperwork. When did trying to make a few extra bucks turn into a crime?

Thanks, Saffron Limón

Dear Saffron Limón,

This is just more proof that our world is growing crazier by the minute. All the so-called experts say it’s good for kids to be outside and using their imagination. Unless, as you point out, the little criminals want to sell lemonade. Then it’s off to the ‘clinker’ for them. Sheesh. Would people make up their minds already? All these splitting hairs are giving me a headache. And I don’t have much hair left! For anyone not clued into what we’re talking about here’s the deal: in 33 states (there are 50 states, in case you missed civics class) it’s illegal to have a lemonade stand and sell without a permit or a license. And in case you’re wondering, Michigan is one of those states where your kids could end up facing a fine for selling bootleg lemonade. What’s next? Forcing kid’s to pay union dues if they want to shovel sidewalks and driveways in the winter? Before you laugh, two teens from New Jersey faced fines because they hadn’t obtained a “solicitation permit” before they went door-to-door offering to shovel snow after a storm. Anyway, back to Lemonade-Gate.

Some will say this is an excellent opportunity to teach little Susie about being an entrepreneur. That she should have a business plan, brand her stand, etc. Guess what? Little Susie is eight and deserves to have and enjoy a childhood before adulthood. Kids are having to grow up faster than ever it seems, so why can’t we just let them enjoy these precious moments of being a child? You may be wondering how we got to the point of regulating a beloved childhood rite of passage. Best I can tell it all kicked off in 2011 when three little girls in Georgia had their stand shut down because they didn’t have a business license, or the proper permits required to sell food. Since then it seems we hear about a story like this every summer. Guess it’s only OK to show initiative if you’re going to play by the grownups rules. And because we as a society have made a mountain out of a molehill with the issue, politicians have gotten involved to pass laws for sanity’s sake.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

It used to be illegal in 35 states to sell lemonade without a permit or license. It is now only illegal in 33 states because Utah and Texas had their lightbulb moments and passed basically a common sense law that is allowing the lemonade to flow more freely. Utah passed their law in 2017 and it says cities and counties cannot require a license or permit for any occasional business operated by a minor. Texas’ law will go into effect this September thanks to an incident back in 2015 when two girls were running a lemonade stand in the hopes of raising money to buy a Father’s Day present. The police told them they needed a peddler’s permit, so they got one. Then get this: they were told they would also need a food-handling permit from the health department! Listen. I know lemonade from these stands isn’t usually the greatest, but to my knowledge, no one has ever been poisoned. But I have to hand it to these young ladies. To get around both issues they started offering free lemonade but accepted tips. Is that entrepreneurial enough for you, America? So, because of all that, the Texas lemonade stand law now covers all non-alcoholic beverages sold on private property and in public parks.

Now here comes the ‘only in America’ angle of this story. Country Time – that’s right, the lemonade people – is taking a stand for these pint-sized entrepreneurs by providing ‘Legal-Ade’ (get it?) to anyone who has been denied by the man to sell lemonade in 2018 or 2019. Up to $30,000 of ‘ade’ to families to pay off fines. You just send a photo of the fine and explain what happened. At least someone is looking out for these kids. Usually, I find kids loud and annoying, but they should be allowed to be both without unnecessary policing. I’m pretty sure our fine officers have much more pressing issues to deal with. Let’s leave the kids alone and liberate the lemonade!

Happy summer!
Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at


  1. Embarrassed Grandpa says

    Pet Peeves department
    Talk about kids and growing up too fast—think about the tv ads that they are subjected to. I mean the ones for ED and now a fairly explicit one for PD. What’s next?

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