As we remember Shirley Temple, who passed away on Monday at the age of 85, we can't help but revisit the way she shaped our childhoods: watching old Shirley Temple movies and ordering Shirley Temples on special occasions. As kids, we were utterly mesmerized by her tap dancing, adorable dimples, and bouncy mop of curls, and the drink symbolized something glittery and fancy, making us feel like precocious celebrity kids. But sort of like how Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales are much darker than their Disney renditions, so too is the intriguing true story of the Shirley Temple cocktail.
The original recipe, as well as its inventor, remain disputed. For some, a Shirley Temple consists of Sprite or 7Up with a splash of grenadine and a few maraschino cherries. For others, it's ginger ale instead of lemon-lime soda. Beverly Hills restaurant Chasen's is said to have made the first, classic Shirley Temple recipe for the starlet's 10th birthday. Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood also allegedly invented the drink and named it in honor of the star. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, a resort where Shirley Temple frequented, also claims to have concocted the first Shirley Temple.
In the '80s, Shirley fought for the rights to her name when soft-drink companies wanted to bottle and sell products named Shirley Temple and Shirley T. She argued, "All a celebrity has is their name." But here's the truly crushing part. When asked about the iconic beverage, Shirley responded, "The Shirley Temple? Those saccharine, icky drinks? Well, those were created in . . . probably the middle 1930s in Hollywood, and I had nothing to do with it."
And there you have it. The mocktail we all enjoyed as children and were led to believe was Shirley Temple's favorite is really just a wildly successful riff on a celebrity's name.