There were giant oranges lurking along many of the highways throughout California. These giant oranges operated as juice stands, eagerly awaiting thirsty travelers to pull over and partake of their fresh cold orange juice. At a time when most cars didn't have air conditioning and the highways were not the freeways with on and off ramps of today, the orange stands did a busy and successful business.
In 1926 Frank E. Pohl started his chain of "Giant Orange" stands opening up their frist orange shaped stand at 11th Street near E Street in Tracy. Before trying out orange juice stands, Pohl had a giant lemon from which he served lemonade in Menlo Park called Jumbo Lemon Stand. But his first "Giant Orange" was in Tracy, California and spawned a franchise and imitations throughout California.
The franchise peaked in the 1950's with approximately 16 different stands built throughout Northern California from Bakersfield to Sacramento to Merced and Redding. It's rumored that a stand could easily go through six thousand oranges during a week as it quenched the thirst of weary travelers who pulled over for a quick drink.
There were giant oranges in at least Tracy, Dixon, Bakersfield, Tulare, Madera, Chowhcilla, Merced, Turlock, Redding, Galt, Roseville, Sacramento, El Dorado, Banta, Vacaville, Modesto, Lodi, Williams, Patterson, and Placerville. And some of those cities such as Tracy and Dixon had two of the giant orange stands.
After the 1950's the stands began to decline as by-ways were converted to high speed motorways which made it more difficult to pull off and stop for just a glass of orange juice, no matter how refreshing it was. This combined with the emergence of air conditioning in cars, the decline of the giant orange juice stands began.
There are still at least two of the Pohl's sixteen original orange stand buildings remaining. The first stands in Dixon, California and is operating as a Mexican restaurant. Called George's Orange, it is now part of Mr. Taco. So the fate of the giant orange is currently unclear. However, it was operated as an orange juice stand until July 15th, 1973 and was the last of the giant orange stands to remain in business as an orange juice stand.
The last orange stand that remained was in San Jose. Since 1947, the orange was utilized by Mark's Hot Dogs. Mark's Hot Dogs originally opened in 1936 and relocated to the orange in 1947. The orange was also constructed in 1936, was placed on the original Alum Rock Avenue site in 1947 when Mark's Hot Dogs moved into it, and it became a city landmark in 1992. Mark’s now operates out of a new orange shaped building at 48 S Capital Street.
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180 South “E” Street
Porterville, CA 93257