Why Bright And Early Isn't Actually Orange Juice

When you hear the names Tropicana, Minute Maid, SunnyD, or Bright & Early, orange juice is likely what comes to mind. But not all supposed "orange juices" are created equal. 

Healthline praises orange juice as a nutritious breakfast drink option, noting that it boasts low calories and important nutrients like protein, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium, as well as much-needed antioxidants. So it's tempting to grab whatever looks like OJ from your local grocery store without looking at the label, assuming all of the supposed "juices" in that section are exactly the same and will keep you healthy. But as it turns out, that may not be the best approach. 

Brands like SunnyD and Bright & Early may look like orange juice, and may even taste like orange juice, but a quick look at the label will tell you they're definitely not your average, healthy OJ. So what makes these beverage options different?

Bright & Early's difference is both subtle and obvious

Mashed writer Kori Ellis consulted Walmart's website for some help in finding the differences between real OJ and its orange-hued imposters. For one thing, the front of the Bright & Early carton boasts "NO JUICE" in big, bold letters, noting instead that it is flavored "naturally and artificially". As Ellis notes, "instead of using real orange juice, Bright & Early gets its tartness from citric acid and its color from food coloring."

It would seem unethical if it wasn't right in front of your face. But because of the addition of claims of high Vitamin C (also on the front label), Bright & Early is often confused for the real deal. Make no mistake though, one look at the other ingredients listed will convince you it's not. Additional ingredients include "sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup, sugar), less than 2% of: citric acid (provides tartness), potassium citrate (regulates tartness), modified cornstarch, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), natural and artificial flavors" and several food dyes (via Walmart). This sounds more like your average soda than orange juice. So next time you're at the grocery store, maybe think twice about what carton you reach for.