Big Orange Energy

Once upon a time in California, giant orange stands and restaurants littered California, especially along highways, in the 1940s, with 16 supposedly having been along Highway 99. They were known for giant hamburgers, very large fries, and to die for orange shakes. Now the majority of them, if they are still standing, are just empty citrus shells, devoid of the life they once brought. As far as I’m aware, one of the few (if not the only) remaining orange stands/restaurants was north of Fresno on the 99, within Madera.

Could they have any more distracting letters to make you pullover to check out the fuss?

This specific one is known as Mammoth Orange (it is the image of this blog, but in a restored, nonfunctional form), named so because of a large mammoth tusk that was discovered nearby; the naming is appropriate since mammoth is synonymous with giant. What caused their downfall anyway? The evolution of cars, roads (highways/freeways) and thus travelers. “After the 1950’s the stands began to decline as roads were converted to higher speed freeways which made it more difficult to easily pull over and stop for a glass of orange juice. This combined with the emergence of air conditioning in cars, began the decline of the giant orange juice stands” (which offered a chilled refuge!).

This Giant Orange in San Jose apparently did hot dogs. They must’ve been large enough to compete with mega sized hamburgers, I guess.

While the Mammoth Orange within the Central Valley had persisted for quite a while, it met its ultimate doom in 2007, when a state reconstruction project along the 99 cut off access from the highway that already made it difficult to access the orange stands to begin with. These are undoubtedly nostalgia for most, and easily a large reason as to why these are becoming landmarks, selling orange shakes or not. Maybe if one of these happen to be operating still, or are breathed life to do so, I could have a taste of these mega hamburgers, giant fries, and an orange milkshake. For now, Mammoth Orange exists in Chowchilla as a part of the Fossil Discovery Center (a museum) of Madera County.

Possibly the latest image of Mammoth Orange; taken in 2005, before its closure in 2007.

Sources: Fresno Bee, Weird CA

One thought on “Big Orange Energy

  1. This is a great blog Ronan! I have lived in the Central Valley most of my life, but I never know the long, storied past of this once great local eatery. Thanks for sharing!!!

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