Are Lemonade Stands Illegal In Seattle?

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This morning we brought you the story of Julie Murphy, the seven-year-old girl who had her lemonade stand shut down by inspectors from Portland's health department. This got me thinking: Would our local authorities be so cruel as to crush the dreams of a similarly innocent little child here in Seattle?

James Apa, spokesman for King County's health department, says that yes, yes they would. Murphy and her mom had set up shop at a street fair in Portland. If a kid did the same in Seattle, says Apa, they'd be expected to have a temporary event permit, which retails for $50.

But that scenario is unlikely. Beyond restaurant inspections, he says, his staff usually patrols festivals like Folklife and Bumbershoot, where they've never encountered an entrepreneurial tyke like Murphy.

"Our inspectors aren't going through every neighborhood looking for lemonade stands," he says.

Yes, but what if they did? What if health department officials swept the streets Minority Report-style, in a search for pigtailed delinquents? What would happen then?

That depends, said Apa, justifiably annoyed by our increasingly-unlikely line of hypothetical questioning.

If the kids were making lemonade on the cheap -- that is, with mixes like Crystal Light -- and not actually using any real fruit, they wouldn't be breaking the law.

But if you've raised an ambitious little bastard -- say, a mini-Martha Stewart -- who insists on using fresh-squeezed juice, you'd technically be violating the state food code. Since any preparation, including cutting up lemons, has to be done in an approved facility, which doesn't include your mom's kitchen.

The lesson, as always, for all of Daily Weekly's pre-pubescent readers: aim low, and strive to make your product as shitty and flavorless as possible. Otherwise, there will be trouble.

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