Like most Canadians, I gravitate to warmer beverages most months of the year (because the weather is typically cold and a coffee shop is just five minutes away). Lemonade was never something that I legitimately craved (most likely because my three older sisters played pranks on me when I was little and liked using sour lemons as weapons) ... but that all changed when I stumbled across Family Squeezed Lemonade!
If you haven't tasted one of their magical concoctions ... YOU SHOULD! I can't get over how they can take such simple ingredients (eg., citrus fruits, berries, mint, sugar, and water) and produce such explosive flavours in every 976 millilitre glass of fresh-squeezed, not from concentrate, lemonade. Although the Classic Lemonade is always delicious, The Mojito and Ruby Sparkle varieties are certainly crowd favourites!
But, their success is so much more than unique recipes and preparation techniques (like a high tech version of "Willy Wonka's Factory"). This family run business is doing so much more than making great tasting lemonade.
A Lemonade Stand "on Steroids"
When Jennifer and Jeremy Andrews started this business four summers ago, it started out as a way to teach their kids a lesson on the value of money and hard work. Jennifer, the oldest of four siblings, learned early on that hard work was necessary for survival ... and that the power of family could make anything a reality.
Losing her parents in her teens, she assumed the role of "parent" to her brothers and sister where, together, they made it through tough times. Now that she's a mom to two children, she wanted to ensure they could learn the same lessons (i.e., responsibility, accountability, teamwork, troubleshooting and appreciation) in a safe and educational way. Hence ... Family Squeezed Lemonade.
With the idea of creating a family run "Lemonade Stand on Steroids", the adventure started in their driveway (which ultimately became their lemonade kitchen and laboratory). The goal was to produce fresh squeezed, NEVER from concentrate, lemonade in unique flavours that their friends and community would love.
In order to do that, with a workforce of kids and teenagers (including the expanding group of cousins) it was important to figure out a way to get fresh squeezed juice without it being too labour intensive. A family friend came to the rescue and created the hydraulic "smashers" for the kids to use. This also made it super fun and easy to make lemonade to order in just minutes!
Without any real life lemonade experience, the family experimented with different ingredients and played around with the ratios of fruit to sugar and water to come up with the fresh flavours that have people following the big, lime green bus around the city (and beyond)!
No Gimmicks ... Just Family
Everything about Family Squeezed Lemonade, including this tiny little project in life lessons, comes from Jennifer and Jeremy's dedication to family. These two human beings strive to be good parents, role models, and teachers to their kids. In fact, this is not the first project that involved getting the family together to do something significant for their community.
This local family has been actively involved in "Can Change Cousins", an initiative started eight years ago by Jennifer's sister, Julie, and nephew, Harris, to give back to people in need of some help. On the first Thursday of every month, with their green caps on and garbage bags in hand, the cousins get together and canvas the neighbourhood asking people to donate any cans, bottles or spare change for a good cause. The money raised each month goes towards someone in need (who would never ask for help) when things get tough. This family is driven by their ability to work closely together, have fun, and make people smile!
So ... with 12 kids and cousins to start with (not including the parents), Family Squeezed Lemonade was ready for business. With Jennifer at the helm, this wasn't just some pipe dream without direction. This was just another project driven by passion and the opportunity for the family do something exciting and worthwhile together.
Since it's humble beginnings, this family business has quickly grown into its own little lemonade empire! What started out as a single trailer at the Farmer's Market (testing out the waters and seeing if people liked what they were cooking up in their driveway) has now turned into:
- Three trucks, two trailers and eight pop-cycles and carts
- An expanded Family Squeezed "family" which now includes young friends and teammates (even babysitters)
- Calgary Stampede's Best Drink on the Midway - 2014 (The Mojito Lemonade)
- The launch of Family Freezed Gourmet Ice Pops
Going from "Squeezed" to "Freezed"
Although the business was a success early on, this got the family thinking beyond lemonade made fresh on location. Customers were asking how they could take their Family Squeezed Lemonade home with them to enjoy whenever they wanted. This spurred the idea of freezing the lemonade into treats that could still maintain its fresh flavour any time of year ... and Family Freezed Gourmet Ice Pops was born!
With a commitment to quality, fresh ingredients and unique flavours, they spared no expense to ensure these gourmet ice pops delivered on that promise. Hand made (using kids, cousins, and the extended "family") they use an ultra-quick freezing method that ensures the flavours and textures aren't masked by the freezing process.
In fact, these gourmet treats are so popular that they are already available at Cococo Chocolatiers, DaDe Art & Design Lab, SPUD.ca (local and organic groceries delivered to your home), National restaurant locations, and on various YYC Food Trucks where you can find "one of a kind" flavours matched to each truck (Sticky Ricky's, Burger 320, The Sugar Cube, Bento Burrito and Red Wagon Diner). Oh ... did I mention they also have Family Freezed Gourmet Ice Pops shipping across the country and the United States, too? It's amazing what happens when you happen to have family that live south of the border!
What's Next for the Andrews Family?
Are they looking to take over the world with fresh squeezed (and freezed) beverages and treats? Right now Jennifer and Jeremy Andrews are focused on accomplishing three simple things:
- Doing their part to be good to the environment
- Producing "good human beings"
- Keeping the family together (from the littlest to the oldest) and making memories that last a lifetime
The flavours that you taste when you visit Family Squeezed Lemonade or Family Freezed Gourmet Ice Pops are not just about the ingredients ... there is a great sense of care and attention to detail that goes into every single glass of lemonade and popsicle they make! Just visit one of the trucks and watch the kids in action. Fun to watch, quick to make, and always served with a smile.
As I look over at Jennifer and Jeremy watching their kids smashing, squeezing, pouring and serving their lemonade to eager customers ... it's easy to see how proud they are of their children and what they've started. These young kids, and the experiences they're gathering working together in this business, are setting them up for success in whatever they choose to do in the future!
P.S. - I recently got the opportunity to hang out with Jennifer, Jeremy and the family at the recent Deerfoot Mall Drive-In Movie where I took some fun images. You can check out the images on social media using the icons at the top of the page.
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on August 15, 2015)