These rather stunning revelations come from Alissa Hamilton, who published the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice in 2009. Her scandalous tell-all might seem like it had the potential for creating a Juicegate, but the book came and went without putting much of a dent into the Big Juice Guys. And, anyway, the process delineated above is pretty much corroborated by Tropicana’s very own website, which cheerfully breaks it all down from “grove to glass.” They’re hiding in plain sight!

This process certainly explains why every carton of Tropicana OJ tastes exactly the same. It also explains why Tropicana juice tastes different in different countries—because Tropicana modifies the flavor packets to the popular taste preferences of different regions. It’s also why Minute Maid’s Pure Squeezed orange juice tastes different—they use different flavor packets. Did you catch that? It’s called “pure squeezed,” which sounds a whole lot like fresh squeezed, but it’s not. Which brings us to the most important point of all: haven’t you ever wondered why a fresh squeezed glass of OJ tastes so different from these “pure” orange juices? It’s the process, stupid.

I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at myself. I never wondered why.

The juice industry is big. Tropicana, which is owned by Pepsi, generated $6.2 billion in revenue last year. This is a money-making behemoth. PepsiCo Global Beverages Chief Massimo D’Amore didn’t mince words when he was interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this month. “We have lost perspective here on the primary reason we are in business, which is to make money,” D’Amore said. I bet D’Amore sits at his desk and smokes those flavor packets rolled in $100 bills, while making his billions.


Pepsi, which owns Tropicana, and Coke, which owns Minute Maid, produce 59% of the orange juice in America.


I pursued both Minute Maid and Tropicana (Pepsi and Coke, which owns Minute Maid, produce 59% of the orange juice in America), and asked them questions about their juice production. Not surprisingly, I got the runaround. Eventually, they referred me to the Juice Products Association. After accepting my questions, those guys nicely didn’t get back to me either.

ABC News did a report earlier this year using Hamilton’s findings, and they elicited a response from an industry spokesperson who said, “The Food and Drug Administration does not require adding flavor packs to the labeling of pasteurized juice…because it is the orange.”

Not surprisingly, a woman in California was so outraged by the juice process, that she filed a lawsuit this January claiming Tropicana is deceiving consumers. Tropicana issued a statement that it “remains committed to offering great-tasting 100 percent orange juice with no added sugars or preservatives. We take the faith that consumers place in our products seriously and are committed to full compliance with labeling laws and regulations.”

Sure, I bet they’re in compliance. In fact, the truth of the matter is, those flavor packets are actually derived from the orange peel, so what they’re doing is taking the flavor out, and then adding it back in later. It’s just chemistry. Maybe that’s not so bad. Or maybe it is. But I’m never going to look at my juice the same way. It’s not really the juice I thought it was. It’s more of a drink.