The phrase “to hand someone a lemon” (i.e., something defective) dates to at least 1906. The phrase “If life hands/deals/gives you lemons, make lemonade” (i.e., make the best of a bad situation) became popular soon after 1906.
The Bloody Mary cocktail was added to the phrase by cartoonist Jeff MacNelly (1947-2000) in the SHoe editorial cartoon of May 16, 2000, just before MacNelly’s death on June 8, 2000: “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. And if life hands you tomatoes, make a Bloody Mary.”
Other phrase variations in the 2000s have included “If life hands you tomatoes, make tomato sauce” and “If life hands you tomatoes, make salsa.”
Shoe (comic strip)
Shoe is a comic strip that was written and drawn by its creator Jeff MacNelly from 1977 until his death in 2000. It has since been continued by Chris Cassatt, Gary Brookins, and Susie MacNelly.
While not politically oriented in the style of strips such as Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury, the strip often pokes fun at various social and political issues of the day, especially when Belfry makes an appearance.
The strip won MacNelly the Reuben Award for the year 1979.
Wikipedia: Jeff MacNelly
Jeffrey Kenneth MacNelly (September 17, 1947 – June 8, 2000) was a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and the creator of the popular comic strip Shoe.
15 May 2000, Placerville (CA) Mountain Democrat, The Funnies, “Shoe” by Jeff MacNelly, pg. B7:
IF LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADE.
AND IF LIFE HANDS YOU TOMATOES…
MAKE A BLOODY MARY.
Google Groups: alt.fifty-plus.friends
From: Jim Everman
Subject: Happy Birthday Arlin & Ilene
When the world gives you tomatoes make bloody marys!
4 May 2001, The Advocate (baton Rouge, LA):
From Bob Copes: “If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys.”
Google Groups: alt.humor.puns
From: Stan Kegel
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 10:36:28 -0700
Local: Mon, Jun 11 2001 12:36 pm
Subject: “Puns of the Weak” and “Puns of the Day”
If life deals you lemons, make lemonade. If life deals you tomatoes make a Bloody Mary! (Syman Hirsch)
UC Berkeley News
When life gives you tomatoes - make salsa!
Growing Learning Communities, a UC/community partnership, provides young students with hands-on lessons from the garden
By Wendy Edelstein, Public Affairs | 05 October 2005
Thursday, September 14, 2006
When Life Gives You Tomatoes, Make Catsup
The World Observed
Brian Shaw Says:
June 23rd, 2008 at 6:10 pm
I once heard that anytime you stick your head above the crowd, you’re bound to get a few tomatoes. Well, I say, when life hands you tomatoes, make tomato juice. (I’m going to blog about this someday)
Dandelion Blu (August 20, 2008)
When life gives you tomatoes, make tomato sauce?