What's Up With Dollar Tree's Donald Duck Juice?

Disney can advertise a theme park as the happiest place on Earth, sure. But at the end of the day, Disney is a company that's out to do what every other business sets out to do: make money. One obvious avenue of income is merchandising, and you'd be up the Jungle Cruise without a paddle if you don't want Disney to plaster its characters anywhere it can.

Food plays a surprisingly large role in the Disney empire, especially in its theme parks. CNBC reports that the park's "Star Wars"-themed attractions usually include specially designed foods such as bao buns, bubble waffles, and wildly innovative cocktails to better immerse guests in the atmosphere. A press release in Business Wire tells us that Disney has even released "branded fruits and vegetables" as part of a collaboration with DOLE to promote healthier foods for children.

Perhaps most surprisingly, should you be in your local Dollar Tree, you may come across a bottle of Donald Duck orange juice or possibly other flavors. The juice is produced by Citrus World Inc., which is based in Lake Wales, Florida. The company's website explains that it has a licensing agreement with Disney. Introduced in 1941, the Donald Duck juice brand wasn't always a big focus of the company. But in 2017, Citrus World said it would get more attention (via the Herald-Tribune). What makes this juice so special?

Donald Duck is a popular face

According to Mental Floss, a Dollar Tree store manager couldn't explain why Donald Duck brand orange juice is so popular. But they added, "A lot of people stop at our store on the way to work or wherever, so it's kind of a quick pick-up." A familiar face, even one of a cartoon duck, might be comforting to see in a store of lesser-known names. According to The Orlando Sentinel, Walt Lincer, a spokesman for Citrus World's Donald Duck product line in the 1980s, even stated that having the face of Donald Duck on products was a sign of quality and achieved "instant recognition."

But do customers really think it's a quality product? People on Influenster who purchased the orange juice at such locations as Dollar Tree and Walmart seem to give Donald Duck orange juice generally positive reviews. Some praised the drink for not being "too sweet" or even tasting like "real oranges" while others had fond childhood memories of it. However, there were also consumers who complained that the aftertaste was "weird" or "less than fresh." Of course, not all duck drinks are orange. At least some Dollar Trees reportedly offer as many as eight types of Donald Duck juice, including apple, grape, and kiwi strawberry (via YouTube)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, over the years, Donald Duck's face has been placed on everything from sherbet to root beer to even flounder (via Disney Food Blog). An impressively long history for such a short-tempered duck.

The other duck juice

As anyone even remotely familiar with Disney can tell you, there is only one Donald Duck and he's owned by the Walt Disney Company. So imagine your surprise, then, if you were traveling down the drink aisle at your local grocer and saw that the foul-tempered, ne'er-do-well sailor had a doppelganger used by another juice company.

This was the case with the Mexican company Pascual Boing. It produces juices just as Citrus World does, even appearing to use Donald Duck's likeness to promote its products. The only problem was that unlike Citrus World, which has a licensing deal with Disney, Pascual Boing had no such agreement, according to Reuters. The mascot wasn't called Donald but rather Pascual Duck (Pato Pascual). But a single glance might tell you that he looked like Don down to his sailor's cap.

Of course, this didn't escape the eye of Disney's Mouseketeers in marketing. As Reuters reports, the company actually had a long-standing feud with Pascual Boing on the copyright of its character. One court case led to the Mexican company tweaking its imitation duck, which ultimately didn't appease Disney. It was only in 2007 when Pascual Boing turned its mascot into a much more "hip" and "modern" version, resembling a rapper rather than a sailor-themed duck.

Disney has had to crack down on bootlegs of other famed characters as well. In 2020, it began a crusade against knockoff Baby Yoda products made by DIY artists (via CBR).