I thought it'd be frightfully easy to find the etymology of this cliche on the Internet, but so far I haven't had any luck! It wont even tell me if its a maxim or not!
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
Dale Carnegie popularized the cliché, but I found it in print five years prior to Carnegie's first publication. This is from a sidebar of maxims in a men's clothing advertising periodical called Men's Wear, 1908/09:
This reference most likely precludes Carnegie from being the phrase's progenitor as he was selling lard at the time of its publication.
It seems Carnegie did not use the phrase in print until his last of six books, published in 1948, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, in which he has a chapter titled "If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade" that ends with his Rule #6:
It is widely attributed to Dale Carnegie. There's a wikipedia entry for it. It may be older than him, and he may have merely popularized it. Google "carnegie lemonade" and see what shakes out for you.
Actually, the saying is originally attributed to Elbert Hubbard: "A genius is a man who takes the lemons that Fate hands him and starts a lemonade stand with them." (Reader's Digest, October 1927) ref
However, the saying is usually credited to Dale Carnegie, who published it as: "When fate hands us a lemon let's try to make a lemonade." (Rule #6, at the end of Chapter 17 in Carnegie's "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" published in 1948)
EDIT: Probing a little further, I acquired the October, 1927 "Reader's Digest". As foretold, I discovered Hubbard's "lemon quote", right there on page 343, borrowed from "The Independent".