Fourth of July and Picnic Bug Juice

My parents didn’t believe in soda for children. When my sister and I were thirsty we drank water out of a Dixie cup assigned to us, lined up on the window sill just above the kitchen sink, one for each family member.

ZaRex, a sweet flavored syrup that dissolved into water was termed belly-slop at our house, even though I thought it looked awfully good. Kool-Aid was definitely out of consideration. I do recall my mom relented enough to buy drinking straws that had flavored cores through which we could suck milk turned into strawberry or chocolate deliciousness. Rarely, orange soda or root beer showed up but it had to be a State Occasion unless the family made a special treat out of having homemade ice cream sodas with bottled pop and scoops of ice cream.

On merely very special occasions in summer my mom concocted a juice drink we all thought was heavenly made out of one small can each of orange, grape and lemonade frozen concentrated juice. She served it in the kind of iced tea glasses with a matching pitcher I now see in antique and collectible stores. (How did I get so old?)

I’ve always called it bug juice. It’s good for picnics, summer suppers eaten out of doors, on the Fourth or not. Grown-ups like it, too, and you can add plain soda water or seltzer to give it carbonated fizz. If you keep the cans of concentrate handy in your freezer, you can whip up a batch in no time at all. I prefer unsweetened grape juice, so all the sugar comes from the lemonade. Pour it over ice.

Bug Juice
  • 1 can frozen concentrated orange juice
  • 1 can frozen concentrated grape juice
  • 1 can frozen concentrated lemonade
  • Water according to directions on the can
  • Club soda or seltzer, optional
  1. Mix all the concentrates in a large container, and add water to dilute according to directions, usually three cans of water per one can of juice, and mix well.
  2. Pour over ice in a glass and add seltzer or club soda to taste, optional.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.