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Mall Brands: Orange Julius

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Facing stiff competition in a smoothie market it helped create.

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Orange Julius: Smoothie pioneer?

Today's smart businesses meet the public's desire for healthier fare, and Orange Julius, as the name suggests, offered good stuff when the first stand opened in 1926 -- then nearly fell off the cliff into oblivion before being paired with Dairy Queen at select, high-traffic locations in the late '80s.

Orange Julius started in 1926 in Los Angeles, then famous for its orange groves. Julius Freed developed a mixture intended to ease the acidity in orange juice and make it easier on the stomach. He served a frothy drink with a creamy texture. Sales at Freed's stand soon grew about 500% off a small base and, so the story goes, people lining up at his stand shouted, "Give me an orange, Julius!" It's probably a tall tale, but a good one, and underscores original patrons' belief in the drink's wholesomeness.

The drink's runaway popularity resulted in rapid expansion: Orange Julius boasted 100 stores by 1929. And the by the 1960s, when shopping malls had become a necessary evil of the suburban experience, Orange Julius set up shop next to the local J.C. Penney (JCP), Woolworth's, and other popular stores of the day.

Ground Round
One nostalgic blogger, recalling his childhood in the quiet suburbs of Colorado, had this to say about his boyhood love affair with the frothy concoction:

"The day [at the mall] usually included a pit stop at Taco House, and if I had any money leftover -- a refreshing Orange Julius drink ... The Orange Julius was like a small snack bar you would find on a 1960s Southern California beach, with large bins of fresh oranges. Our local newspaper had a weekly insert for children [that] had news articles, games, puzzles and recipes. I was so excited when they ran a recipe for an 'Orange Julius Frappé' that you could make in a blender with frozen orange juice."

Around this time, the company's slogan was "A Devilishly Good Drink," and its logo included a devil with a pitchfork. This was dropped when miffed Arizona State Alumni threatened to sue for copyright infringement on their beloved mascot.
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