Looking Back: A Devilish Good Drink; Remembering Orange Julius
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, besides orange juice we had orange flavored soft drinks like Orange Crush, and then we had the Orange Julius. An Orange Julius was a real treat, especially on warm days, and franchises were purchased and buildings erected just to sell the frothy, ice cold beverage. I remember there was one downtown San Jose, one in Los Gatos, and then there was always a stand at the Santa Clara County Fair. One hot summer day in the mid-1970s, my cousin Blanche and I rode our bikes downtown and stopped by the Orange Julius on First and San Fernando Streets. For some reason we thought it would be a great idea to purchase a gallon of Orange Julius (came in a bucket!). We drank the whole thing and became "water-logged" outside the old main library on San Carlos Street. We sat out there for the longest time before finally being able to get back on our bikes and head home.
Image: Left: the Orange Julius stand on First and San Fernando Streets in the 1970s (detail). Courtesy of The Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History. Right: Image from a matchbook cover.
Working at Orange Julius
My cousin Cyndi worked at the Orange Julius in Los Gatos in the late 1960s. I asked her about her experience and this is what she had to share:
"I worked there during the summer and fall of 1969 along with a couple of other high school students. The menu was pretty basic: hamburgers, hot dogs, and Orange Julius. Of course, everyone who came in asked what the "secret ingredient" was, but it just came in a large canister marked "Orange Julius Powder." Several folks thought the drink was greatly enhanced by adding a raw egg, one of the few variations available! On weekends it was standard practice to make up the drinks, except the ice, in large batches. Then, because it was pretty busy at times, we could knock out the drinks quickly by pouring the prepared liquid into the blender, add the ice, and away they'd go. However, on a slow night, we would end up with a gallon or two of the mixture left over. We couldn't keep it, so whoever was closing that night got to take it home! The old theory of "eat all you want, you'll get sick of it real soon" did not apply in my case. We were allowed to have as much OJ as we liked while we worked and I never did get tired of it!"
Image: Left: This is the former Orange Julius building in Los Gatos where my cousin Cyndi worked in 1969. It now houses The Happy Hound restaurant. At right is an old Orange Julius menu from a matchbook cover. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.
History of Orange Julius
Julius Freed opened an orange juice stand in 1926 on South Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1929, the orange juice was developed into a specialty drink by Freed's real estate broker Willard Hamlin. The drink, which became known as an Orange Julius, consisted of fresh orange juice, crushed ice, syrup, and a powder which remained a company secret. Revenues for the stand increased dramatically from about $20 to $100 daily. Hamlin eventually bought out Freed, retiring in 1967, after selling the company to International Industries. At that time there were approximately 700 Orange Julius's operating in the United States and abroad. Orange Julius buildings have been created in various styles, from architect Maynard Lyndon's boxy design, to the Googie-style structure designed by Armet and Davis.
Image: Left: An early 1960s prototype for an Orange Julius building by Maynard Lyndon. Maynard Lyndon papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara. Right: A photo of Maynard Lyndon's building for which he won a Governor's Design Award for California in 1966. Architectural Forum, Jan/Feb 1967.
In the 1980s, I'd occasionally drive over to Arby's on Hillsdale Avenue, and then pick up an Orange Julius at Oakridge Mall (now Westfield Oakridge). I'd park one of my old trucks under an old Eucalyptus tree in the parking lot and eat my lunch on the tailgate. In 1987, Orange Julius was purchased by International Dairy Queen.
Image: Left: A recent shot of the Dairy Queen / Orange Julius at Westfield Oakridge (formerly Oakridge) Shopping Mall. Right: Here I am enjoying an Orange Julius under the shade of a Eucalyptus tree out at the Westfield Oakridge Mall. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce.
Further Reading in the California Room:
- California Captured: Mid-Century Modern Architecture by Marvin Rand
- Mid-Century by the Bay : a Celebration of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1950s and 1960s by Heather M. David
- California Room Index: shopping centers
- San Jose City Directories (1870 - 2015) and Telephone Books (1902 - 2016)