Do You Remember The Original Orange Julius Drinks?

Orange Julius was once one of the most recognizable drinks in America. It could be found in most food courts or at stand-alone kiosks at malls (which have also suffered over the years) throughout the United States. It was just as common as Auntie Anne's or Mrs. Fields. In fact, at one point the drink was so popular that it was the official drink at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.

Orange Julius was born in Los Angeles, California in 1926 and created by Julius Freed. The business started off humbly with Freed only making $20 to $100 a day at his food stand. While the concept took some time to perfect, it revolved around the popularity of oranges at the time. The signature drink is well-known for its distinctive taste that includes a mixture of ice, orange juice, sweetener, milk, powdered egg whites, and vanilla flavoring. The unique and fresh flavor drew thirsty patrons. Bill Hamlin, Freed's real estate broker, bought the concept from Freed and began quickly franchising the stores. 

Hamlin's influence on the growth of Orange Julius was central to business and played a key role in the expansion and changes to the drink. Hamlin suffered from stomach issues, and as an avid customer himself of Orange Julius, sought to change the recipe of the drink to be less acidic and balance out the oranges from the early days of the beverage.

Orange Julius suffers big changes

Rachel Wharton, a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of "American Food: A Not-So-Serious History" said on a Medium deep dive into Orange Julius, "The whole point of the original drink was fresh oranges." Burton notes that during the beginning of the popularity of the drinks, Southern California was filled with oranges and stands displaying oranges being freshly squeezed to customers. Powders and fillers were eventually added to the drinks.

Orange Julius was eventually sold to International Industries in 1967 and then to Dairy Queen in 1987, which began the decline of the brand and a major change to the way the product was made with a move towards more artificial ingredients. Instead of being made with fresh oranges, Burton wrote the drink is now made with a "scoop of powder from a tub, a glug from a box of juice, and a whiz in a blender." Not quite the same thing. The focus on oranges also diverted in 2013 with the introduction of new flavors including Berry-Pom, Mango Pineapple, Strawberry Banana, Pina Colada, and more.

According to YouGov America, 82 percent of people surveyed have heard of Orange Julius, but only 50 percent of people like the brand, with a large number of responders being neutral. The brand is still present in the minds of Americans, but does not hold the same special space it once had.