Thin posting and orange crate labels

I've been trying to get real work done and so thin posting of late.  Hopefully inspiration will strike again soon. 

Way off topic: Today's google doodle brought back memories of Riverside, CA where I grew up.  The early orange growers in that area had labels on their crates that looked a lot like this.

Little known fact: Riverside, CA is where the first navel orange trees in North America were grown.  Last time I checked, a couple of the first trees were still alive downtown.  I grew up Arlington Heights, in the middle of the last vestiges of those early groves.  We got the water for our property from the Gage Canal, one of California's first.  It predated all the big water projects that ultimately made California what it is today.  I still miss the fresh oranges and avocados, and all kinds of other things we grew, on our little hobby farm.


  1. Most people know that citrus growers and grower associations greatly valued their individual brand names for oranges, lemons and other citrus. These brand names appeared on colorful labels affixed to packing crates. The brand name differentiation helped to bring higher revenue from the more valued brands at the eastern fruit auctions.

    But there was a time when this was not the case. Growers and fruit auction brokers initially saw oranges as a commodity, with little differentiation in their minds by grower, grower cooperative or area grown. This changed as some astute growers and fruit brokers saw that there were differences and consumers recognized and valued these differences.

    In 1915 Charles C. Chapman of Orange County gave a speech on this subject.
    The speech, titled “The Value of an Orange Brand”, was delivered to the State Fruit Growers Association. He talked about the importance of branding in the citrus fruit industry to develop the reputation of growers' oranges and a customer base for their consumption. He also stated that brand supersedes even the variety and grade of the orange in importance for marketing purposes.

    This is how banding worked. The packing crates were shipped to auction houses in New York, Chicago and other major cities. At these auction houses sample crates would be displayed for buyers, and then the auction would begin. Buying at auction houses provided the buyer an opportunity to examine the quality of the goods before purchase.

    This was where the well-known citrus labels came into play. Individual consumers rarely saw them, but the lithographed labels were big and bright and stood out across a crowded auction room. The packing cooperatives developed brand names associated with their fruit and these colorful labels made it easy to identify their fruit from competitors. The cooperatives took great efforts to ship a uniform size and grade of fruit under each label so that buyers could tell at glance what they were getting.

    Bob Chaparro
    Citrus Industry Modeling Group


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