Why do we drink orange juice?
In an article appearing in the “Burning Questions” column in today’s edition of Newsday Erica Marcus cites Pierre Laszlo’s new book Citrus: A History to help her answer one reader’s burning question about the origins of orange juice. From Newsday:
I can’t drink cold orange juice first thing in the morning, but I am curious as to when and where this practice began. I don’t think it’s European.
—Rhoda Greenberg, Islip
Drinking orange juice at breakfast is indeed a peculiarly American custom, one whose story recalls those quintessentially American values: marketing and technological innovation.
In his just-published book, Citrus: A History, retired chemistry professor Pierre Laszlo recounts the providential hook-up of the California Fruit Growers Exchange (an organization that was later to become Sunkist) with advertising copywriter Albert D. Lasker.
In the early years of the 20th century, oranges were consumed principally as fresh, whole fruit. In 1916, when California growers were stuck with an overabundance of oranges, Lasker came up with the slogan: “Drink an orange.” This, according to Laszlo, was the moment at which juice consumption began to outstrip fruit consumption.