For centuries, orange juice has been the “healthy” or “mature” option for people who like to drink juice. Apple juice is a little too kid-oriented, grape juice is a disaster waiting to happen, and most other juices are primarily used for mixing in alcoholic beverages, but orange juice—or “OJ,” as its colloquially called—has always been the supposed smart option for people who are fighting off a cold, want a drink with a little more nutritional value than coffee, or get a free juice with their meal at a restaurant and don’t want to look like an snob by refusing it. (Seriously, who are you trying to impress?)
Apparently, though, people are finally starting to open up their taste buds and recognize what the truly enlightened have known all along: Orange juice is stupid. That’s according to a report from Buzzfeed, which says orange juice sales have been in decline for about 15 years. Also, overall consumption has dropped by 45 percent since George W. Bush was first elected president, and supermarkets are giving less and less shelf space to it. On average, “3.4 linear feet” that was once reserved for OJ is now filled with some other drink that probably taste better and doesn’t have little chunks of fruit meat floating inside.
As for why orange juice is quickly going the way of Orbitz, New Coke, and all of the other beverages that failed to excite consumers, Buzzfeed cites a number of contributing factors that have caused people to sour on OJ’s tangy flavor. For starters, Americans are actually paying attention to the sugar content in the things they eat and drink, which has just been disastrous for the food industry as a whole. Then there’s the fact that orange juice production has plummeted thanks to a disease called “citrus greening” that hit Florida in 2005, causing the retail price of the average OJ bottle to skyrocket from about $2 to about $2.50. Throw in the public’s renewed interest in the OJ Simpson trial, and you have the makings of a certified citrus catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the Florida Department Of Citrus is fighting hard to get orange juice back in everyone’s good graces, telling Buzzfeed that it is “working with growers to support their efforts and help share the Florida OJ story with consumers.” The citrus people also say that “there is a lot of confusion around sugar when it comes to juice,” explaining that a serving of orange juice “contains no added sugar” and that a glass of the stuff gives you loads of important vitamins. Of course, if drinking orange juice is the price you have to pay to get those vitamins, are they really worth the trouble?