Cows, Pigs, Hucksters, and a “Devilish Good Drink”

[Editor’s Note: Andy is at the wheel for today’s blog while Ann is covering Andy’s Corner].  

Poster for the 1952 L.A. County Fair (Source: CalPoly Pomona University Library)

I came across this on a website the other day:

The Los Angeles County Fair turns 100 this year. It first opened in Pomona on October 17, 1922, when nearly 50,000 people walked through the entry gates of the inaugural fair. Earlier that year, a group of Pomona businessmen and civic leaders transformed a 40-acre beet and barley field into a fairground with a grandstand, a barn, race track and exhibit tents to promote “the agricultural, horticultural and animal husbandry interest of the great Southwest” [emphasis mine].

I hadn’t thought much about the fair for eons, but this news brought back a flood of memories.  As a kid growing up in Chino during the 1950’s going to the Los Angeles County Fair was almost mandatory.  As I recall, our mom loved the fair about as much as we kids did.  Our dad was less of a fan – he thought the cost of fair food was a rip off – but he always went with us.  It was such a big deal that on “Chino Day” all of the schools would close and we students would get free passes for the day.

The L.A. County Fair in 1949 (I was 6 at the time). Source: CalPoly Pomona University Library

The fair was huge. Purported to be one of the largest in the country, it was nearly impossible to experience the whole thing in a day.  The highlight for me, aside from the “Fun Zone” with its roller coasters, tilt-a-whirls, and shooting galleries, was to stroll through the vast pavilions and stock yards with their rows and rows of cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits and other farm animals waiting to compete for ribbons and trophies – which in retrospect, may not have been so enjoyable had I realized that their next stop was probably the dinner table. 

The inaugural L.A. County Fair, Oct. 17, 1922 (Source: TimeToast.com)

I also loved the many booths featuring hawkers with new gadgets that you couldn’t live without.  I can still hear the huckster’s bantering “it chops; it dices and slices” while demonstrating some “amazing” gizmo to a crowd that had stopped to watch while carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and assorted vegetables were effortlessly transformed into a beautiful salad. My skeptical father even bought a new fangled Farberware “Open Hearth” electric broiler from one of these booths.

Actress Pamela Searle in Los Angeles circa 1959. Photo: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Then there was the concession stand where I could get my all-time favorite cold drink – an Orange Julius. According to an article I found on the San Jose public library web site, the drink was named after Julius Freed who started a very modest orange juice stand in 1926 in Los Angeles. Freed’s business took off dramatically upon the introduction of the Orange Julius formula which consisted of fresh orange juice, crushed ice, syrup, and a powder “which remained a company secret.” By 1967 there were approximately 700 Orange Julius’s franchises in the U.S. and abroad.

Like many things, the fair of my childhood changed, shifting from its agricultural roots to a more urban motif, much as the endless stretches of tract homes, freeways, and malls had displaced the citrus and walnut groves and the farms and dairies of the areas surrounding Chino. As this excerpt from the CalPoly, Pomona web site confirms, my beloved Los Angeles County Fair ain’t the same no more.

In 1984, the fairground was officially renamed the “Fairplex” and has evolved into a major entertainment destination. The Fairplex continues to host the Los Angeles Angeles County Fair and also now includes a hotel, a sanctioned drag strip and motorsports museum, major entertainment events, food and wine competitions, a railroad museum, and a children’s development center.

While I may never again stroll through endless rows of cows and sheep or hear the hucksters selling their goods along the fair midway, I still am able to enjoy drinking an Orange Julius. That’s not because I can go to a local Orange Julius stand. There are none any more. Dairy Queen bought the rights to Orange Julius in 1987 and by 2019 it could be found only in a few select DQ locations.

Orange Julius logo from 1929 – 1968 (Source: Logopedia)

The reason I still can have this experience because I know how to make it at home. When our kids were growing up I made it quite frequently as a breakfast drink. I even would occasionally toss in a raw egg (which was an option offered at the original Orange Julius stands). If I recall, my Orange-Julius-making days came to an end when our daughter Sara, fresh from culinary school, informed us that one of her instructors claimed that fruit juices were no more than “empty calories.” Bummer!

Empty calories or not, I’ve decided to share an Orange Julius recipe that comes close to how I made the drink so many years ago. Rather than using fresh orange juice, I always used frozen orange juice concentrate, which nowadays may be difficult to find (although we are able to get it at our local Safeway).

Speaking of oranges, if you want to experience an orange-based pun and to learn about a couple scrumptious orange-based recipes check out Ann’s version of Andy’s Corner. You may groan at the pun, but I guarantee you will applaud the recipes.

Orange Julius

Recipe adapted from NeighborFood.com. To get the intense orange flavor be sure to use frozen orange juice concentrate.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz can of frozen orange juice concentrate (or half of a 12 oz can) straight from the freezer.
  • 1 1/2 C whole milk (2% or skim milk can work too)
  • 4 T sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C ice cubes (about 10 cubes)
  • Orange slices for garnish (optional)

Put the frozen orange juice, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a blender and blend at medium-high speed until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend again at medium-high speed until the ice cubes are crushed and the drink is smooth and frothy. Serve immediately (garnished with an orange slice if you’re feeling fancy)

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

6 Comments

  1. Cints Simon says:

    Think a little wodka would be just the kick? In going to the fair I’ve always headed, straight for the 4-H section. I can peruse for hours. 🥰

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    • theRaggedys says:

      Funny, you’re not the only one who suggested adding “a little vodka.” It certainly would go down nice and smooth and counteract the chilly weather we’re having. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  2. Linda Sheppard says:

    Oh my gosh Andy, you took me back to high school in Sacramento. The was an Orange Julius place that had a ‘special date’ designation. It took about 15 minutes to drive to so if your date took you all the out there, you knew it was special. And there were soooo delicious on a hot summer Sacramento night.

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    • theRaggedys says:

      Thanks for the comment. I’d be interested if you think the recipe I use would stand up to your memories from those hot summer nights. Ann and I had forgotten how delicious (devilishly or not) an ice-cold Orange Julius can be until we rediscovered the recipe when putting together this blog. Have a great holiday season!

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  3. Larry Squarepants says:

    Good one, Andy.

    Mention of “Orange Julius” triggered a Proustian response. Long ago, I participated in a scientific study. Every morning, we drank an Orange Julius.

    The study concerned the long-term effects of pot smoking. The subjects were a group of chimpanzees who smoked dope every day for 90 days. Then our cognitive abilities were tested.

    This looked like chimp abuse. At the time, I was a PETA activist. With the help of an insider, I infiltrated the subject group. I wore a chimp suit and fooled all the researchers.

    I formed a loving relationship with what I thought was a female chimp. She turned out to be an undercover ASPCA activist. We’ve been together ever since.

    You’re probably wondering what the cognitive testing showed. Strangely enough, I was right in the middle of the Bell Curve.

    On our anniversary, we toast each other with OJs in memory of those heady days.

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    • theRaggedys says:

      Wow. That’s quite an interesting Orange Julius connection. Coincidentally, one of my research colleagues from years ago told me that as a grad student she was a research assistant at the Primate Lab at Tulane Univ. and her job was to roll joints for the chimps that were subjects in a research project dealing with the effects of pot. Maybe you met her, her name was Molly. However, she never mentioned the Orange Julius angle.

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