Family Business Dank Drank Lemonade & Kettle Corn Rises to the Occasion

425

It all started with a sour experience at a lemonade stand at a festival a few years ago.

In a quest to find a better lemonade, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members Nicole Corral and Devon Hayes went out on a limb and decided to start their own lemonade business with their kids.

Corral, who also works full-time as an in-home nurse caregiver, said that a tough family situation made it that much more important to get the kids involved.

“We have a lot of kids. A lot of kids from loss,” said Corral. “My brother passed away, and I got all his kids. One day we had five more kids and all of a sudden we had 13 kids total, and we would travel to these festivals.”

A couple of Corral’s girls purchased cups of lemonade from a vendor, and it wasn’t up to par, according to the girls.

“So, I said to go back and ask [the vendor] to fix it to see if they messed up on something. They went back and [the vendor] treated them so bad,” said Corral. “I don’t know if it was because we were Native or what it was. It made me feel so bad knowing that my girls were in that situation.”

Using this experience as motivation to make something special for the kids, the family discussed trying to make lemonade on their own. After some experimenting, they found a winning recipe.

“We finally had a recipe that’s amazing. Even when you drink it up and the ice melts, it keeps going,” said Corral. “We thought, ‘That’s awesome, how did we do that?’ So, we tested it with family members, and they liked it.”

The family is related to the owners of The Stand, another food and beverage business in the Community. The Stand encouraged them to come out and sell their lemonade on the property. One day, Corral decided to “just go out and do it already,” and the family hasn’t looked back since.

They started out with a couple of lemonade options (currently there are about 14 flavors), with the idea in mind that they wanted to do something different than everyone else. To set themselves apart from the competition, Corral said they tried out different add-ins for the drink, such as fresh fruit, candy and gummies.

Then came the kettle corn, when Hayes purchased a kettle on a whim.

“I said to him, ‘No, don’t do that! We’re barely getting the hang of this lemonade,’” Corral said with a laugh.

But the kettle corn became a big hit and was welcomed by the family, and so their new business venture, Dank Drank Lemonade & Kettle Corn, was born.

“We went through so many names. One of them was, like, ‘Fish Juice’ because you could fish out the fruit,” said Corral. “Then we used the word ‘Dank’—with our meaning of the word being ‘Dang, that’s good.’”

Fast-forward to 2022, and Dank Drank began selling from the Hayes family’s property at 10194 E. McDowell Road as their McDowell Pop-up Shop.

Now, every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., depending on the weather, the lemonade and kettle corn are for sale, and the shop brings in a variety of other small businesses who sell handmade food, arts and crafts, and other items.

Corral said that the shop is a place for vendors to go that’s safe and open in the Community.

“A lot of the vendors [mostly Native] are people who have nowhere to go to set up and sell their goods. A lot of them are our friends that we’ve met over the years,” said Corral. “For us, it’s never about making the money, it’s more about bringing something special here for Community members. Everybody here in the Community is like family.”

Previous article6th Annual Cecehia Ha Cicwidag Features Toka Debut of Peyton Z. Reina
Next articleBirds Singing and Dancing By The River Wins Second Place in Tohono O’odham Wapkial Ha-Tas Parade