Tasty Tuesday: The Lemon Stick

The Devon Horse Show serves up a classic candy/fruit summer refreshment.

Living on the Jersey side of the bridges, I'd somehow missed one of the true treats of a Philadelphia summer. But a trip this past weekend to the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair introduced me to the simple joy of the lemon stick, the sweet/tart candy/fruit refreshment that's long been a mainstay at the two-week-plus equestrian event. (They're sold for $2 a pop at the Candy Booth in the Picnic Grove.)

The lemon stick couldn't be more basic from a recipe point of view. A porous candy lemon stick is stuck into the pulpy part of a lemon with its top cut off. Then you sip fresh lemon juice straight from the fruit, using the stick like a straw. I loved the way the tangy pulls of lemon juice acted as counterpoint to the sugary sweetness of the candy and the way a squeeze of the lemon delivered a rush of juice.

When making a lemon stick, not every candy cane-like lemon stick will do; that porous quality is a must to allow the juice through. The Devon Horse Show and Philly-area purists all rely on the lemon sticks from Giambri's Quality Sweets; the Clementon, NJ candy company has been pulling lemon sticks since the 1940s and sells them for just $4.50 a dozen. I'm planning on ordering a bunch so I can serve lemon sticks in place of sorbet as a palate cleanser at our backyard BBQs this summer.

The history of the lemon stick entails a good old grudge match between cities.For a while, Baltimore and Philly tussled over the bragging rights as to which town first offered the lemon stick. It does seem, however, that Baltimore wins out, debuting the lemon stick at the FlowerMart Festival in 1911, three years before the Philly premiere at the inaugural Rittenhouse Square Flower Market. However, Baltimore uses a peppermint stick instead of the lemon stick that's so popular in these parts. The Baltimore Sun has called our regional variation "truly bizarre." We beg to differ. 

Check back here on Thursday to see more pictures from my day at the Devon Horse Show. I'll be back at the show, this time with my colleagues, this coming Sunday, June 2, at the MetroKids station in the gazebo for Children's Day! See you there. You'll know me by the lemon stick in my hand.

Categories: FYI