How America fell out of love with orange juice


At its height, almost three-quarters of American households bought and kept orange juice in their refrigerator. But shifting American eating habits—which stigmatize sugar and leave little time for breakfast—and surging juice prices have done significant damage to American demand.

As a kid, we never had orange juice for breakfast (too expensive) and the only time I ever drink it now is if I go to a diner for breakfast and then I crave it. When’s the last time you had a glass of OJ? For our non-North America readers – was/is orange juice ever a staple of your breakfast?

  • Nicholas Chan

    Orange Juice from concentrate just sucks. Freshly juiced oranges taste lightyears better than concentrate.

  • berryhill

    I felt my throat getting a little scratchy last Friday, so I asked the wife to pick some OJ up. I drank all 64 oz that night. I felt like Peter on Portlandia.

  • gjgustav

    Ever since I learned about how scammy “Not from concentrate” is, I went back to concentrated orange juice. Neither is close enough to fresh-squeezed so it’s basically pay less and add water, or pay more and drink perfume.

    • skellman

      Scammy??? And sugar??? I drink a gallon of “not from concentrate” OJ every week or two! Are the OJ companies lying to me?

      • gjgustav

        All fruit juice has lots of sugar – similar to amounts in soda.

        And by scammy, I mean that OJ companies would have you believe that “not from concentrate” is the same as squeezing the orange juice into the carton and selling it. But they don’t do that; they pump all the air out to save space and weight, and then ship it across the country. This process removes all of the flavour. Then the local plants put air and orange tasting perfume back into the juice to give it flavour.

        • skellman

          Dang. Another illusion shattered.

  • f1rehead

    I keep some on hand for cocktails.

  • GFYantiapplezealots

    I stopped drinking it when I learned how bad sugar is and how much was in OJ.

  • TheMacAdvocate

    We usually kept some from concentrate in the freezer. I can remember that “plop” into the pitcher and having to stir it for 15 minutes before you could drink it. Good times.

  • Gromit1704

    I’m in the UK and have drank a class of Orange Juice in the morning for the past decade as part of my 5-a-day*. It used to be Del Monte, but is is now Tropicana (with Lime). Except the current thinking is that fruit juice is bad for me. * 5-a-day is a health campaign to get everyone have at least 5 items of fruit or veg a day.

  • dreyfus2

    Either orange or grapefruit, freshly juiced every morning, for the last 40+ years (Germany here). Plus 3-4 espressos, each accompanied by a Benson & Hedges. No solid food before 8 pm. Never been sick, no weight problems either.

  • invinciblegod

    I actually don’t really like orange juice; it’s too sour. However, I do like mandarin orange juice, which tastes distinctly different.

  • Only non-concentrate OJ for me. Lots of pulp. Almost every morning when I can find it for $6 a gallon or less!

    • Where do you buy orange juice for $6 per gallon? Up here in northeastern Illinois, $2.50 per quart is about normal. (And the quart is being “redefined” as 59 ounces.)

      • Doh! I meant to say half gallon. Sorry. Southern California is a good place to get it fresh.

    • Is there any truth to “pulp” in orange juice not necessarily being orange pulp?

      • Read the label. I guess that’s you only hope of knowing.

        • Yeah, sadly pulp is a pretty ambiguous term. Unless there’s a requirement that “pulp” listed on orange juice is orange pulp, it’s probably not.

          That said, I don’t like bullshit conspiracy theories, either. So if anyone knows better, I’d love to hear it. 🙂

  • Paulo Clayton

    Here in Orlando, we’ve got a local citrus company called Conoley that gets citrus of all kinds from all around nearby farms in the central Florida area. They’ve got a huge juicing machine in the main shop area that seems like it runs all day as they’re constantly loading the machine with fresh oranges. It’s definitely more expensive than any of the concentrate brands, but there’s no comparison in the quality of the taste, so my wife and I don’t care how much it costs. It’s INCREDIBLE. The only other downside is they’re closed 5-6 months out of the year as local orange groves aren’t in season throughout most of the summer. Solution: we buy several gallons and freeze ’em. Even the thawed orange juice is far better than anything the concentrated brands have put on grocery store shelves.

    • Dave

      Hey Paulo, thanks for sharing! I live in Orlando and look forward to checking it out. Even though I don’t drink orange juice on a regular basis, I’ll have to try a little, and also pick up some whole citrus. Thanks again!

      • Paulo Clayton

        You’re welcome! They have ½-gallon jugs as well, and they even do a frequent buyer’s punch card of either buy 10 or buy 12 & get one free. My favorite season is the end of January through the beginning of February where they harvest honeybell oranges. BEST oranges I’ve ever tasted.

  • Dave

    As a kid yes. Just water (well, and beer, whiskey, wine lol) for me now. Orange juice, though loaded with good stuff, is missing most of its fiber and therefore has severe negative impacts on blood sugar, which, among other things, increases your athersclerotic plaque (leading to heart disease). Better to just eat oranges. Same holds true for apples, but they are even worse. Also watch out for those odwalla or naked smoothie drinks (like at WWDC) – first ingredient is usually apple juice – bad news.

  • Quip

    More important than the coffee for me. I need the sugars I believe. I have OJ before anything else in the morning. The coffee can wait up to two hours.

  • dustinwilson

    This morning. I buy a gallon of it a month. I only drink non-concentrate OJ not for any particular health reason but because it simply tastes better not from concentrate. It’s worth the extra money. Good stuff, but like everything only good in moderation.

  • kix_r

    In the Philippines, we had “orange juice drinks”, basically sugar syrup with coloring and maybe some flavors, and maybe “fortified with vitamins”. The range went from cheap local stuff, to Tang, to Sunquick. “Fresh” OJ not from concentrate was a luxury item reserved for high end restaurants or hotels.

  • I drink orange juice every day, but it has some vodka in it, lol.

  • I drink 10 oz (300 ml) every morning. Sometimes more. A day without OJ is like a day without sunshine.

  • As a house father (in Europe), I juice oranges every morning for breakfast, sometimes augmented by grapefruit and/or lemon. We buy 6-8 kg of citrus fruits every week. We’re not avoiding the healthy dose of fiber and vitamins just to avoid a little sugar. If you want to keep your sugar dose in check, verify your cereals packages.

    When visiting the US, I remember laughing in super markets at jugs of “Florida orange juice” in California, and “California orange juice” in Florida…. the worst fruits in both states are juiced and “exported” 😉

  • Nothing beats a large glass of freshly squeezed OJ… except maybe fresh lemonade on a summer day.

  • Kriztyan

    Growing up it was fresh squeezed juice. My mom actually purchased oranges and made juice from them. This was Mexico City, back in the 60’s

  • “surging juice prices have done significant damage to American demand”

    What killed OJ for me was not surging prices but that grocery store orange juice became “juice”.

    I stopped drinking “orange juice” (read anything but fresh squeezed) when I found out how grocery store juice was mass-manufactured, what went into it and how it was stored in massive tanks.

    We squeeze our own, but not often enough. Naked and Odwalla, are good alternatives, and we buy that regularly.

  • Boback

    It’s always been part of my diet. Especially now since I’ve started the whole Reboot thing. Even though it’s now mixed in with carrots and ginger or other veggies.

  • NixonLvr

    I don’t drink orange juice much, the concept really got ruined when I was a kid by that “Sunny D” stuff running around masquerading as orange juice. I find that even the “not from concentrate” is way too thick and syrupy.

    There’s a great local company here in Calgary that makes fresh orange juice and delivers to homes and businesses. They are taking off and are needing to expand quite a bit to meet growing demand.

    • Well, you can dilute it with water, too. Just because it’s not from concentrate doesn’t mean you can’t water it down yourself.

      I haven’t done this much this year, but when I was dieting I usually watered down non-concentrate orange juice about 4 parts water:1 part OJ. Gave me something to taste throughout the day, and kept my blood sugars from dipping too low.

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