Del’s Lemonade | Up Close

Founded by Angelo DeLucia in 1948, Del’s Lemonade is no longer a local secret; it’s one of Rhode Island’s signature brands.

By Yankee Magazine

May 15 2015

Photo Credit : Julie Bidwell
Founded by Angelo DeLucia in 1948, Del’s Lemonade remains a family business, now employing a fifth generation of DeLucias. But with 25 franchises in five states, Del’s is a secret no more, having grown into one of Rhode Island’s signature brands.
Del’s Lemonade | Up Close
Photo Credit : Julie Bidwell


Frozen lemonade made its first appearance in 1840 in Naples, Italy. Family lore has it that around that time, Franco DeLucia’s father started storing ice in hay-insulated caves, where it would last until the summer lemon crop ripened. His combination of lemon juice, sugar, and shaved ice was a hit at the local market.
Franco DeLucia brought the family recipe with him to Rhode Island around the turn of the 20th century. Franco worked for machine-tool maker Brown & Sharpe and sold lemonade at pool halls in his spare time. Franco’s son Angelo later owned the Oak Hill Bowl-Away in Cranston. Looking to diversify his business during the slow season, Angelo developed a machine for mixing frozen lemonade and opened the first Del’s Lemonade stand in 1948. By 1955, the business was so successful that he sold the bowling alley to focus on Del’s. At first, Del’s was sold from pushcarts. Soon after, the company started using trucks to take the beverage anywhere that Rhode Islanders tended to congregate. The first Del’s Lemonade vehicles were modified Table Talk Pies trucks. In a typical summer, Del’s juices about 300,000 lemons. Other vendors have slushies or smoothies, but Del’s prefers that its signature product be identified as “soft frozen lemonade.”
Del's Lemonade
Del’s Lemonade
Photo Credit : Lori Pedrick
The “ade” suffix indicates that the drink isn’t 100 percent juice. The earliest known lemonade was called qatarmizat by the Egyptians, who concocted it in 500 a.d. A lemonade variation made with sparkling water and honey was all the rage in Paris in the 1630s. Feeling under the weather? Have a lemonade. In the 1800s, hot “flaxseed lemonade” was considered a cold remedy. According to an 1881 article, the Shakers considered lemonade among “the healthiest and most refreshing of all drinks,” prescribing it for the treatment of digestive disorders. In 1993, coffee milk edged out Del’s Lemonade in a competition to be named the official state beverage of Rhode Island. According to Joe Padula, Del’s executive VP, there’s a right way and a wrong way to drink a Del’s. The wrong way? Use a straw to suck all the juice out, leaving yourself with a cup of ice. The right way? Hold the drink and let the heat from your hand melt it a little bit, then sip. Shaking the cup gently from side to side between sips also helps release the flavor. Rhode Island–raised film-makers Bobby and Peter Farrelly have shown Del’s in their movies There’s Something About Mary and Me, Myself and Irene. Del’s has also been featured in the TV shows Providence and Maybe It’s Me, and in an episode of Family Guy, in which a banner reading “Enjoy Del’s Frozen Lemonade” trails behind an airplane.