Citrus was to southern California what the discovery of gold was to the north because it triggered a massive migration to our state. In fact, many Americans from back east came to California to see for themselves the “paradise” found on those early crate labels used to promote citrus fruit.
Through these labels, “California sunshine” and “California living” became deeply ingrained in the popular imagination of a nation.
In this episode of “California’s Gold,” host Huell Howser explores the history and lore of orange crate labels with Gordon McClelland who’s not only written a book on the subject, but has a collection containing literally thousands of the colorful labels, along with orange postcards and other ephemera. Huell learns first-hand not only how the labels were designed and printed, but just how important they were in the marketing of California oranges around the world.
Then Huell travels to UC Riverside to visit the Citrus Variety Collection which covers 20 acres, has approximately 1,700 trees and over 800 different varieties of citrus from all over the world. It’s an amazing place which has been part of the California landscape since the early 1900’s performing valuable research and coming up with all sorts of new varieties of citrus. Huell walks through the groves and picks and tastes some of the newest and most unusual varieties of oranges being grown.
All in all, this adventures is a juicy slice of history as we take a look at our state’s citrus industry which is very much a part of “California’s Gold.”