History of the Arnold Palmer and Alternatives for a Gut-Friendly Diet

Summer is fast approaching and that means it’s time for refreshing patio drinks like an ice-cold Arnold Palmer. While you may want to throw caution to the wind and chug as many sugary drinks as you can, think of your gut! The solution is as easy as grabbing a diet Arnold Palmer instead of a regular, right? Well, not exactly.  

what is an arnold palmer

If you’re unfamiliar, an Arnold Palmer is a half tea half lemonade drink that’s a total crowd-pleaser. You can even add a shot of vodka to it and call it a John Daily. The most popular brand you’re going to find is the AriZona Tea Company’s diet Arnold Palmer. This drink, however, is not very gut-friendly and is loaded with artificial sweeteners. So, let’s look at what’s in a diet Arnold Palmer, and healthy alternatives to keep you from bloating this summer!

What is an Arnold Palmer?

To start, the Arnold Palmer is a drink named after the famous golfer. It’s a half and half mixture of unsweet black tea and lemonade. The combination creates a refreshing taste that’s not too sweet and not too sour. It’s perfect for summer and once you try one you’ll want to chug at least three more.

History of the Arnold Palmer

The reason for the namesake is that Arnold Palmer actually created the drink. Before Arnold Palmer became a drink mogul, he was a professional golfer that was very well known. He’s also regarded as being one of the most charming golf players in history, so even people who didn’t care for golf were fans of this guy. Palmer won many events on the PGA Tour and was nicknamed ‘The King.’ 

Palmer was so well-known because his career took off right around the time that television was becoming a staple in people’s homes in the 1950s. So, on top of his golf career, Arnold Palmer was a household name and is credited with assisting in making golf as popular as it is today. 

Flash forward to the 1960s while Arnold Palmer is out to lunch one day. Palmer was about to order lunch after a long morning at the golf course in Palm Springs. He decided to order a mix of half tea and half lemonade, which was something his wife had been making for him for years.

Someone at another table heard him order this and thought it sounded delicious. So, they decided to order what Arnold Palmer was having and the drink was born. Arnold Palmer had no idea how popular the drink would become after that.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the drink was mentioned nationally. The Arnold Palmer was mentioned in the Rolling Stone hot issue, which continued to increase its popularity. In 2001, Palmer partnered with the AriZona Beverage Company to begin bottling the drink under his namesake.  

The drink continued to be so popular that in 2012 ESPN did a 30 for 30 Shorts documentary on it that featured Arnold Palmer himself.  

Arnold Palmer’s face continues to grace the shelves of convenience stores on giant cans of the delicious beverage. So, when you’re craving the refreshing beverage, you’re likely to reach for a can of diet Arnold Palmer from AriZona.

Arnold Palmer Variations

Along with the original Arnold Palmer, there are several variations of the drink.

Winnie Palmer

Winnie Palmer was Arnold Palmer’s first wife. This variation of the drink simply uses sweet tea instead of unsweetened tea. Keep in mind this one is going to up your sugar intake!

John Daily

This one is for when you’re feeling boozy. It’s a traditional Arnold Palmer with a shot of vodka thrown into it. You can play with the number of ingredients to get the taste exactly to your liking. MillerCoors sells a malt-based version of this concoction under the name Arnold Palmer Spiked.

AriZona Arnold Palmer Ingredients

Since one of the main ingredients in an Arnold Palmer is tea, it should be healthy right? Well, it depends on where you’re getting it from. AriZona sells two versions of the drink, and one is a Diet Arnold Palmer. This version is ideally supposed to be healthier for you, but it’s important to look at the ingredients.

Arnold Palmer

When you examine a can of Arnold Palmer, the third ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. We all know that this is not good for you. High fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener in sodas and other drinks such as the Arnold Palmer from AriZona. While it’s similar to sugar, high fructose corn syrup gives you extra calories and can cause weight gain.

Diet Arnold Palmer

The diet version of Arnold Palmer eliminates the high fructose corn syrup, but it’s still not just tea and lemonade. In fact, the high fructose corn syrup is replaced with ingredients like sucralose Advertised as half tea and half lemonade, the AriZona Arnold Palmer includes several other ingredients such as sucralose which can alter your gut microbiome

According to the National Library of Medicine, the consumption of sucralose can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut, which we already know can cause a number of problems. So, even though the word ‘diet’ should mean you’re getting a healthier version of an Arnold Palmer, the added ingredients could do you more harm than good. You may be better off making your own diet Arnold Palmer at home!

Healthy Diet Arnold Palmer Alternatives

One of the best ways to ensure you’re not putting anything you don’t need into your body is to make it yourself! The good news is that a diet Arnold Palmer is easy to replicate, and you can tailor it to taste exactly how you want it to!

Homemade Diet Arnold Palmer Ingredients

All you need to make your own diet Arnold Palmer is tea and lemonade, it’s super easy. Before you run out and buy whatever tea and lemonade are on the shelf, keep your gut in mind. Part of the reason you’re choosing to make this at home is to avoid all of the nasty junk that’s in the canned version, so it’s important to be mindful of the ingredients of what you’re using.

Your best bet will be to brew your own tea and make your own lemonade. We understand that’s not always an option, and you might want to throw something together in a pinch. For lemonade, we definitely recommend making your own at home. Store-bought lemonade is always packed full of sugar and other unnecessary ingredients. We recommend this gut-friendly lemonade recipe with apple cider vinegar for an extra health kick.  

As for tea, using organic black tea is going to be best. If you like sweetener, you can use a little bit but the combination of the lemonade and the unsweet tea should be enough to get your fix. If you don’t want to mess with brewing your own tea, we recommend HalfDay’s Lemon Black Tea.

Halfday lemon black tea tonic

The extra citrus from the lemon will give your diet Arnold Palmer an extra kick, and there’s no added junk to this tea. There’s only 3g of sugar, so you can feel good about adding it to your summer bev’s. All you need to do is shake the can, pour it in, and you’re ready to go.  

For a recipe, the general rule of thumb is to add half tea and half lemonade over ice. Stir, and you’re done. Arnold Palmer preferred to do two-thirds tea and one-third lemonade, so have some fun playing around with what works best for you. To really bring the drink together, you can add a fresh lemon wedge and a cute straw.


The bottom line is that a diet Arnold Palmer is delicious. The problem is that when you get the canned version, you are going to be drinking a lot of sugar and other additives. Making your own diet Arnold Palmer at home will help you ensure you know exactly what’s in your drink! Try one with Halfday’s Lemon Black Tea, today!