Current Art Show
From Fruit Box Labels by Gordon T. McClelland:
Paper labels to identify the brand name and packing location of boxes of fresh citrus first were first used in Southern California in the 1880s. The brightly colored, attractively designed paper label attached to the end of a wooden box proved to be a key ingredient in the development of a national marketing system.
For oranges, California packers developed a wood shipping box about 12” x 12” x 27”, and used a label about 10” x 11” on the box end. This standard label size was used for the next 70 years.
Growers and packers were responsible for choosing their own labels. The images they picked related to their special interests, or were designed to call attention to their product in the face of hundreds of competing brands.
When lemons were available for sale in the early 1900s growers had to face the fact that, unlike oranges, lemons had no large volume market. While customers would buy oranges by the dozen to peel and eat, they would buy only one or two lemons at a time. Lemons, therefore, had to be sold for lemonade, for lemon pies, to garnish plates of food, or for their fresh clean fragrance.
Because lemon growing has strict climatic requirements, California became, by the 1920s, the only major region in the United States where lemons were commercially grown and shipped. The wooden shipping box developed for lemons was shorter and wider than the orange box, and labels about 9” x 13” were used.
By the 1920s lemon growing became a major activity near the coastline in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. These scenic locations provided the design themes for many lemon labels featuring beach views, sailboats, sea gulls and other nautical themes that rarely appeared on labels for other citrus products.
While most of the citrus industry began to use pre-printed cardboard boxes by the mid-1950s, several lemon packers continued to ship specially ordered fruit in wooden boxes for about five more years. These boxes were slightly smaller than those used earlier, and versions of several lemon labels already in use, such as Schooner and Goleta were employed in a reduced format.