The Unbelievable Number Of Lemons Chick-Fil-A Uses Every Year For Lemonade

There's nothing like fresh lemonade, which blends the tartness of fresh lemons with the sweetness of sugar. Chick-fil-A's lemonade is one of the fast food giant's most popular beverages. And for good reason. It's true that it's made from scratch every day, and the recipe is as pure as it gets – just water, lemons, and sugar, as one of the restaurant's associates explains in a YouTube video

But if you've ever made lemonade from scratch, you know how much work it is to squeeze the juice from all those lemons, and if you've never made it before, you might be surprised just how many lemons it takes to make a pitcher of lemonade: about 8 to 10, in fact, as demonstrated in this recipe from The Kitchn. So it's not surprising, then, that the Chick-fil-A chain uses more than 250 million lemons a year, which translates into about 121 million cups of lemonade, according to the company's blog, The Chicken Wire.

The sheer volume of lemons purchased by Chick-fil-A and consumed by its guests is astounding. The company said in 2015 that it bought more Sunkist lemons than all of Japan did.

Chick-fil-A changed how it makes lemonade

Chick-fil-A used to take no shortcuts when making lemonade. A self-identified Chick-fil-A associate on a Redditt thread attests, "We squeeze 12 bulk boxes of lemons every single morning, make about 168 pints of lemonade, and sell out of it by 3pm. Squeeze 2-3 more boxes and sell out by the end of the night." A YouTube video posted in 2014 purported to show the process of making Chick-fil-A lemonade. A worker stands among boxes bearing the familiar blue "Sunkist" logo and clear plastic tubs brimming with fresh lemons. One by one, the employee holds the lemon halves in a juicer, making the herculean task of juicing all those lemons just a little quicker than you might expect. YouTube comments suggested the method differed across locations, but one person called the video accurate while another said, "We even compete who can squeeze the most lemons." 

But times change, and so did Chick-fil-A's lemonade. In late 2020, word spread that Chick-fil-A's lemonade now tasted "different." Mashed reached out to Chick-fil-A to find out if the formula had changed. It turns out the company did change the process, though not the recipe (we're guessing this was at least in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Chick-fila-A wrote in its reply: "To help ensure our lemonade is always available for our guests, we recently started to extract lemon juice outside of the restaurant using state-of-the-art equipment." But it's refreshing to know that the simple formula remains unchanged: Lemons, water, and pure cane sugar.