Monday, September 24, 2007



Donald Duck Orange Juice


As I sat at the breakfast table this morning I stared at my glass of orange juice and contemplated the beverage’s evolution.

As a child, orange juice was kept in a small can in the freezer. One opened the can, dumped the syrupy, icy, orange clump into a pitcher, filled the empty can with tap water, added it to the pitcher, stirred, and orange juice was born.

I was born in an era just before major changes in food packaging were implemented. I am sandwiched between milk delivered in glass bottles on the back door steps and milk purchased in half-gallon paper cartons in a store. In those days all orange juice came in a can, just like chicken came on a bone.

For centuries— before freezers and concentrate cans— one had to squeeze his or her own orange juice, if there were fresh oranges available. That is still an option today, though I don’t imagine many people do it.

Upscale grocery stores have machines that mechanically squeeze fresh oranges while you wait. The quality, as always, depends on the quality of the oranges used. Occasionally the orange juice squeezed from one of those grocery store robot juicers tastes a little like orange rind. Bitter.

Today orange juice mostly comes in half-gallon cartons. There are many options available. As a kid I had two options in the morning— orange juice concentrate or no orange juice at all— today I can have orange juice with no pulp, orange juice with a small amount of pulp, orange juice with a lot of pulp, orange juice with calcium added, orange juice with less sugar, with fiber, low acid, heart healthy… you get the point.

Actually there were three orange juice options back in the day: orange juice, no orange juice, or Donald Duck orange juice. Option three— Donald Duck orange juice— was an option that was actually worse than not drinking orange juice at all. It was bad.

Donald Duck orange juice tasted like grapefruit juice. I hate grapefruit juice. For some reason, back in the 1940s, the Walt Disney Company gave a license to an orange juice manufacturer to use the likeness of one of their top cartoon characters, Donald Duck, for use in a new beverage. The company then proceeded to put bitter tasting grapefruit juice in a can and market it as orange juice. For a company that has licensed everything imaginable, it is their oldest surviving license still in existence

The cans of Donald Duck orange juice always looked rusted on the outside and the product inside always had a faint taste of the metallic can.

Question: If Donald Duck orange juice tastes like grapefruit juice. How awful does Donald Duck grapefruit juice taste?

My mom bought Donald Duck orange juice every once in a while. I am not sure why. The Sunflower grocery store always had plenty of frozen concentrate on hand.

As I sat staring at my orange juice this morning— orange juice, by the way, that had been poured from a paper carton (medium pulp) — I reflected back on my first experience with Donald Duck orange juice. I was around eight years old. I was eating sweet rolls prepared by my across the street neighbor. I had asked for milk (the perfect sweet roll accompaniment). My mother poured orange juice, and not just any orange juice, Donald Duck orange juice.

It was the first case of taste-bud shock I had ever encountered. Taste-bud shock is when one thinks he is drinking a particular beverage, and there is an entirely different beverage in the glass. For example, your taste buds are ready to taste milk, your brain is sending signals all over your body— here comes some cold, delicious milk. Except it’s not milk, it is orange juice. Immediately your taste buds panic and your brain goes into sensory overload.

In my inaugural bout with taste-bud shock, my taste buds were bombarded with Donald Duck orange juice when they were expecting milk. That is a third degree taste-bud shock, skipping two steps altogether and going from milk expectancy to something that tastes like canned grapefruit juice.

We switched to Tang after that. I hate Tang, too, but next to Donald Duck orange juice, Tang is nectar of the gods.

Before long, we switched back to frozen canned orange juice concentrate and that is where we stayed until I moved away from home.

In my twenties I drifted away from orange juice, and by the time I returned to the fold, orange juice was being sold in cartons.

Sometimes we get caught up in romanticizing the “good old days.” Folks, there are no “good old days” when it comes to orange juice. It’s better than ever.

Today I drink orange juice that comes from a carton. And I don’t even have to open the carton and make a paper pour spout out of the corners of the top of the carton. The good folks at the orange juice manufacturing plant have seen fit to put a small plastic screw top on the top side of my orange juice carton. I shake and pour. No can, no grapefruits, no rust, and no taste-bud shock— just sweet, slightly pulpy, Florida orange juice.


Barbara Jane Foote’s Super Summer Tea

6 Tea Bags (regular size, or 3 family sized)
2 qts Boiling Water
1 1 /2 cups Sugar
6 oz. Can Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
6 oz. Can Frozen Lemonade Concentrate
6 oz. Pineapple juice
Handful Fresh Mint
1 /4 tsp Cinnamon
1 /8 tsp Ground Cloves

Pour boiling water over tea, mint, cinnamon and cloves. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a one-gallon pitcher. Add sugar, stir until dissolved. Add juices and stir well. Fill pitcher with ice. Can be served hot or cold.

7 comments:

Ken Webster said...

I was glad to find your article. It is right on. I have always hated Donald Duck orange juice. I was born in 1962 and for many, many years, I would not drink orange juice because I assumed all orange juice tasted like Donald Duck Orange Juice. I was so happy to find OJ years later that tasted great. You are the first person I have found that said what I always thought. Donald Duck OJ tastes like grapefruit juice! While I like oranges and grapefruits, I don't like grapefruit juice. I could not figure out why oranges tasted so good, but orange juice tasted so bad!! I tried it again as an adult and it was as bad as I remembered it. I guess those who love Donald Duck OJ MUST love grapefruit juice. You're article perfectly encapsulated every childhood thought I ever had about Donald Duck OJ.

Anonymous said...

try simply orange, simply apple, etc.
THE best juice I have ever had, and not even expensive.

Philip Sasser said...

I remember Donald Duck orange juice. It was really just a sick joke. It had to be. Even grapefruit juice, horrible as it has to be, couldn't be THAT bad. It was as if Satan himself grew his own mutant grapefruits and left them to corrode the interior of an already-questionable can.

My wife found this post after I mentioned that I had eaten some Ritz crackers and found that I liked them once again. Why had I not loved that buttery cracker taste for so long? It occurred to me that in my younger years, mainly as a preschooler, I had been served Ritz crackers with Donald Duck orange juice in my Sunday School class almost every Sunday. I continued to associate that gruesome taste with an innocent cracker.

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