Houston Suter’s sorbet was sweet, but the more than $1,000 he gave to area animal shelters and rescue groups might have been a little sweeter.
The 7-year-old College Station boy’s ginger lemonade sorbet was named the best tasting product in the Lemonade Day National Best Tasting contest. Houston, who participated in his third Lemonade Day this year, donated $1,241 to Aggieland Humane Society, Urgent Animals of Hearne and Rita B. Huff Humane Society in Huntsville.
“Apparently, this is the first year they’re doing the national best tasting, so he won the very first one,” Houston’s mom, Amy, said, noting he was in his corner fort when they got the email announcing he had won. “I read it to him, and his first response was, ‘I’m famous!’ … He was super excited.”
In addition to being the first national best tasting winner, this was also the first year Houston’s Doggone Good Lemonade — formerly called Lily’s Lemonade after the company’s spokesdog — expanded to include three charities instead of just one.
With a Lemonade Day lesson to split the money among personal use, savings and charity, Houston and his parents — a self-described “dog-centered” family — selected Aggieland Humane Society as their charity of choice for the first two years he participated, Amy Suter said.
Though Houston did not raise as much that first year, she said, her son was ready to do Lemonade Day again as soon as he received a letter from the humane society describing how his money helped the animals.
“He got hooked by just that,” she said. “From then on, it was really about helping animals.”
Houston first got the idea to participate in Lemonade Day during the annual Easter Egg Hunt at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, where the local chapter had a booth.
As Houston has gotten used to the Lemonade Day process and has gotten older, he has continued to learn about business, the importance of staying true to his word if he says he will be somewhere or do something and how to stay motivated.
“We told him all along, they don’t want to buy lemonade from me. They want to buy lemonade from him,” Amy Suter said. “But it’s hard to keep — I mean, he’s 7, 6, 5 — it’s really hard to keep the motivation up when he’s those ages. This year, he did really good on Lemonade Day. He really cranked it up out there.”
The lemonade he sold at his booth was not the same as the product he entered for the best tasting contest. For that, Houston and his family created a specialty lemonade dessert, which is what other entrants submit.
As they were deciding on their recipe, Amy Suter said, they tested the lemon ginger and a lemon berry sorbet, with the ginger flavor coming out as the all-around favorite.
Though she helped in the process, Amy Suter said she made sure that Houston did his part in making the sorbet, his Lemonade Day product and creating his booth.
“I would feel totally guilty about this recipe if I had chosen the recipe and made it, but he actually helped with every single part of it,” she said. “He helped zest. … He helped grate the ginger. … He did a lot of juicing of lemons. … He helped with every little part.”
The most difficult part of the sorbet recipe, Houston said, was squeezing the lemons.
“He squeezed some lemons like crazy,” his mother added.
The only part he did not help with was stirring it during the night because he has a bedtime, he said, and was already asleep.
Amy Suter said she thinks one of the reasons her son was so excited to win the best tasting contest was because of the lemons he squeezed to create the sorbet.
“I made sure every drop of juice came out,” Houston said.
On Saturday, Houston received the winning gift pack from the best tasting contest sponsor Wyler’s Light, which included multiple packs of lemonade, a $300 gift card, a Frisbee and a personalized letter.
Amy Suter said the experience has shown Houston he has the option to work for himself after he is finished with school.
“Throughout the ups and the downs of it — because it’s not all rosy — even in those moments when things are tough, they’re still learning life lessons from it,” she said. “It’s good life lessons all around in a controlled environment, which is nice. It’s not high risk. That’s what’s good about it is you learn those in a nice controlled environment.”
Through Lemonade Day, the family also gained new four-legged members of their family from Urgent Animals of Hearne.
Before Lemonade Day 2019, the family began fostering a stray dog found in Taft, Texas, and her eight 10-week-old puppies. Amy Suter said they wanted to “walk the walk” and instead of just giving money to an organization to take care of dogs and puppies, they wanted to step in and personally help.
The puppies’ mom, Special K, who is set to be adopted by the Suter family, was going to be euthanized, but Urgent Animals of Hearne stepped in to save the mixed-breed stray and her unborn puppies.
The eight puppies and their mom makes for 11 canines in the Suter house, but the family is only going to be keeping Special K and two of her puppies. With one puppy claimed, they still have five — three females and two males — looking for homes.
For anyone interested in adopting one of the puppies being fostered by the Suters, contact Urgent Animals of Hearne on social media or by phone at 979-279-6388.