J.M. Thompson of Chicago is recognized as the original inventor of Orange Crush in 1906. However, in 1916 Clayton J. Howell and chemist Neil Ward led the way in the development of the brand. Ward, a beverage and extract chemist, perfected the process of blending ingredients taken from the delicate oils in oranges. This process would become known as the “Ward Process” and during the early years the drink was labeled as “Ward’s Orange Crush.”
Between the 1940′s and 1970′s Crush bottled “The Delectable Refreshment” in a brown “krinkly” bottle which reportedly kept the sun’s rays from entering, thus protecting the fresh fruit flavor. Even today, when mentioning Orange Crush to those who drank it then, it is frequently referred to “Orange Crush in the brown bottle.”
Crush had a fairly extensive advertising campaign.They marketed heavily in both magazines and newspapers – and of course on brick wall ads. As a note of interest, twelve illustrations were commissioned to Norman Rockwell and Orange Crush. One of his illustrations in a 1932 Saturday Evening Post issue celebrates Orange Crush as having “Vitamins Instead of Chemicals” - “That is Why Leading Health Authorities Approve This Healthy New Orange Juice Drink.” These illustrations were the only advertising contract he ever accepted. The lucrative $300.00 per ad didn’t appear to compensate for the feeling the advertising contract stifled his creativity. The Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising has 60 years of Orange Crush magazine ads that, for soft drink enthusiasts, is a great resource to satisfy your curiosities.
While Orange Crush was the first flavor produced by the company, Lemon Crush and Lime Crush were developed in a line known as “the Crushes.” Grape Crush was introduced in 1960, Cherry Crush in 1962 and Pineapple Crush in 1966. In the decades to follow its inception, Orange Crush was acquired by Cadbury Schweppes, Procter & Gamble Co. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. and over the years there has been no less than 39 flavors distributed in the United State, Canada, and Kuwait. I would argue that there is no better flavor than the original Orange Crush – as advertised here on the side of this brick building in Great Falls.
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