Orange Juice

Consumer product. A flavorful drink made of the squeezed, pulpy fruit of the southeast Asian evergreen tree, genus Citrus.

Usage I: 1. Currently orange juice is one of the best-selling American food products. In the early 1990s, e.g., Tropicana® orange juice was among the top-ten most popular grocery items sold in U.S. retail stores (Krantz 1991:312). 2. While fresh-squeezed orange juice is still served as a breakfast item in some restaurants, most consumers now purchase the product either as a frozen concentrate or in refrigerated containers available in retail convenience stores and supermarkets.

Usage II: According to the Florida Department of Citrus, in 2000: a. the average supermarket devoted 40 linear feet of shelf space to orange juice, compared to 27 linear feet in 1998; b. the U.S. consumer bought orange juice in larger sized containers (over a third sold in a 96-ounce container or larger); and c. almost one-fifth all orange juice sales were for calcium-fortified products (Santangelo 2000).

Ingredients. Orange juice "speaks" to the brain through a molecular code of a. glucose, fructose, and sucrose; b. salts and esters of citric acid (C6H8O7-H2O); c. flavor compounds known as terpenes; and d. the minerals potassium and phosphorus.

Fructose. Humans are primates, and primates have a natural craving for the sweetness of ripened fruit. Fruits and berries were prized 60 million years ago in the Paleocene Epoch, when primates first took to the trees. Forty-six million years later, when the early ancestors of apes and humans returned to the terrestrial plain, a powerful appetite for fructose descended with them.

Sucrose. The sweet taste of sucrose has a pacifying effect on human infants, and reduces their reactions to pain through the release of endogenous opioids (Blass 1992).

Terpenes. Orange juice contains flavor compounds, such as terpenes, which can help neutralize carcinogens, as well as vitamin C which can block substances thought to cause cancer (McGee 1990:23940). Orange juice is also high in vital minerals such as potassium and phosphorus (Robertson 1976:474).

Branding. According to a 2000 report by Roper Starch Worldwide, in the mid-to-late 1990s brand loyalty for orange juice (i.e., consumers reporting to have "one favorite brand") rebounded upward eight percentage points to 44%.

Breakfast. Research indicates that consumer buying behavior shifts significantly between breakfast and lunch. Morning decisions appear to be habitual and are based on taste and nutritional value. At lunch, flavor more heavily dictates choices (Tallmadge 1998). Orange juice contains glucose, fructose and sucrose, which can energize sleepy humans at breakfast. By weight, the sugar content of orange juice is 11%, compared to 3% for tomato, 4% for cranberry and 6% for grapefruit juice (McGee 1990:163).

Supermarkets stock an average 30,000 food items, yet most shoppers buy the same 25 familiar foodstuffs over and over again (Hall 1992). Humans are most conservative about their condiments (especially ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise), breakfast cereals and peanut butter--and rarely buy any but their favorite brand (Long 1990:48). The most conservative and predictable meal for humans is breakfast. Eating out, they will almost always order "the usual." At home, they will gladly eat their favorite combination of muffin, sausage and coffee for months without seeming to need a change.

As one addict confessed in the Washington Post, "I've eaten Cheerios for breakfast practically every day for the past decade" (Santelmann 1993). He went on to say he had never found a bug in a box of Cheerios. Imitation or Brand-X Cheerios, the author lamented, neither look nor taste right, nor do they crumble right, and "their color is all wrong."

The evolutionary constants in a human's breakfast are sugars--sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose and lactose. Donuts, beignets, jellies, juices and honey echo the primordial appetite for morning fruit.

Lunch and dinner. Humans are slightly more adventurous when it comes to lunch and dinner, yet most will choose the same basic dishes, foods and brand names for years, or even decades, with little variation. Familiar foods are known and psychologically "safe" to hungry humans, who will choose what satisfied them in the past rather than gamble on unknown recipes or restaurants.

Fear of new foods may be an evolutionary protection against eating poisons (Hall 1992). Specialized taste buds at the back of a human's tongue are sensitive to bitter, poisonous substances. An innate gag reflex helps keep babies from swallowing bitter-tasting fluids, and adults are quick to notice unfamiliar or "funny" tastes in food, especially in milk.

See also JUICE SUBSTITUTE.

Copyright ┬ę 1998 - 2001 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)

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