How do you make orange juice? Simple! Squeeze oranges and drink. How do big box companies make orange juice? Complicated! Squeeze oranges, remove oxygen, re-flavour the now flavourless orange juice with artificially orange "flavour packs" and... drink? Uhh...
I never thought about it but it makes incredible sense now. Orange juice from Tropicana, Simply Orange, Minute Maid, Florida's Natural, etc — they're all ridiculously consistent in their flavour. And the trick isn't to get the most delicious tasting oranges but rather to create their own unique artificial flavour.
It all starts with the stripping of the oxygen. Once the juice is squeezed and stored in gigantic vats, removing oxygen from the juice allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling. But removing that liquid also removes the natural flavours of oranges. Yeah, it's all backwards. So in order to have OJ taste like oranges, drink companies hire flavour and fragrance companies, the same ones that make perfumes for Dior, to create these "flavour packs" to make juice taste like, well, juice again. A 2009 report says:
The formulas vary to give a brand's trademark taste. If you're discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavour. That's largely due to the flavour pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavour pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a "hall of mirrors" of flavour packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavour packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring.
The flavour packs aren't listed in the ingredients because they're technically derived from "orange essence and oil", whatever the hell that means. So just remember, when you buy Orange Juice next time, even though it says 100 per cent juice (which it is), it's still 100 per cent artificially flavoured. [Food Renegade via Hacker News]