Giant Orange Stands of California
722 Spruce Street,
2635 West A Street, Dixon, California 95620
(Dixon Avenue Exit off of Highway 80)
Bono's Orange Stand
15395 Foothill Boulevard, Fontana, California 92335
Mark's Hot Dogs
48 South Capitol Ave, San Jose, California 95127
Joe's Giant Orange Cafe
3104 Cascade Blvd, Shasta Lake, California 96019
At one point there were giant oranges lurking along many of the highways throughout California. These giant oranges operated as juice stands, eagerly awaiting thirsty travelers to pull over and partake of their fresh cold orange juice. At a time when most cars didn't have air conditioning and the highways were not the super fast freeways with on and off ramps of today, the orange stands did a busy and successful business.
In 1926 Frank E. Pohl started his chain of "Giant Orange" stands opening up their frist orange shaped stand at 11th Street near E Street in Tracy. Before trying out orange juice stands, Pohl had a giant lemon from which he served lemonade in Menlo Park called Jumbo Lemon Stand. But his first "Giant Orange" was in Tracy, California and spawned a franchise and imitations throughout California. The franchise peaked in the 1950's with approximately 16 different stands built throughout Northern California from Bakersfield to Sacramento to Merced and Redding. It's rumored that a stand could easily go through six thousand oranges during a week as it quenched the thirst of weary travelers who pulled over for a quick drink.
There were giant oranges in at least Tracy, Dixon, Bakersfield, Tulare, Madera, Chowhcilla, Merced, Turlock, Redding, Galt, Roseville, Sacramento, El Dorado, Banta, Vacaville, Modesto, Lodi, Williams, Patterson, and Placerville. And some of those cities such as Tracy and Dixon had two giant oranges! Paso Robles additionally had a giant orange located on Spring Street that lasted until at least the 1950s. The girls who worked at it wore roller skates.
Giant Orange Stands were so popular that in the 1930s there was even a small war in Tracy between Frank Pohl's giant orange (on the north side of 11th Street near E Street) and a copy cat establishment called The Orange Basket (located on E 11th Street). The Orange Basket opened in 1934 right next to Tracy High School. In 1935 Pohl filed a lawsuit claiming that the Orange Basket was stealing his Giant Orange trade name and confusing customers. Of course, the lawsuit was thrown out, the judge stating that you can't claim sole use of the word "orange". The Appeals Court upheld the decision. The Orange Basket was open until 1966, when it burned down, catching fire from a lit cigarette. It was called "Jack's" in the end. The property it sat upon was incorporated into Tracy High School, somewhat fitting since much of its clientele were high school students.
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.
Today a few giant orange stands still remain. Dixon, San Jose, Berkeley, Lemon Cove, Chowchilla, Williams, Fontana, and Riverside all have a giant orange stand, or at the very least a replica of one in the case of Riverside.
There are still at least two of the Frank E. Pohl's sixteen original orange stands remaining. The first stands in Dixon, California and is operating as a Mexican restaurant. Called George's Orange, it is now part of Mr. Taco. Thanks to Tim Brown we have several pictures of this historic orange. Sadly we have received reports that the stand is also for sale. So the fate of the giant orange is currently unclear. However, it was operated as an orange juice stand all the way until July 15th, 1973 and was the last of the giant orange stands to remain in business.
The other Frank E. Pohl orange remaining is in San Jose. Originally located at 1920 Alum Rock Ave, this orange was relocated in order to make room for a housing development. After being declared a historical city landmark the historic building was moved to 48 South Capitol Avenue. Today and since 1947, the orange has been utilized by Mark's Hot Dogs. Mark's Hot Dogs originally opened in 1936 and relocated to the orange in 1947. The business was started by Mark Yuram. As far as I can tell the orange was also constructed in 1936, and was placed on the original Alum Rock Avenue site in 1947 when Mark's Hot Dogs moved into it. It became a city landmark in 1992. The current owner is Demos Pantelides.
Visiting the hot dog eatery is a fun experience. The inside of the orange is all restored and painted with orange tiles. Two stools are situated so you can actually eat at the counter inside the orange. Since that's obviously not enough seating, there are four large tables outside the orange, as well as some out door counter space with attached stools. And if that still isn't enough, they provide car service, both taking your order and bringing it out to you while you remain in the comfort of your automobile.
In Berkeley is a privately owned giant orange. Owned by architect Bruce Dodd, he located this giant orange being used as a chicken coop up near Corcoran. He had it extensively restored to the shining example now residing on his property. Dodd now uses it to entertain, enjoying playing with his grandchildren in it. It was not the first giant orange he attempted to purchase, however. The first was an orange located near Chowchilla. Sadly, the night before it was to be transported to his home in Berkeley it caught on fire and burned down.
The Giant Orange is located on Spruce Street and can be seen from the top of the driveway. I sadly did not get to meet Bruce Dodd or see the giant orange up close, as right as I pulled up, my baby daughter passed out on me. A few houses further north on Spruce Street, on the other side from Dodd's house, several large and colorful statues also exist. I am not sure what their story is, however.
Besides Frank E. Pohl's orange chain, several other giant oranges sprung up along Route 66. At one point, much like Pohl's chain which spread throughout Northern California, the orange producers of Southern California in order to gain supplemental income, opened their own orange stands along this historic route. One remains standing. This one is Bono's Historic Orange Stand.
It belongs to Bono's, the Italian restaurant to the left of the orange stand. Bono's originally opened in 1936 in order to add supplemental income to the family's orange grove business, but is now currently closed after the original Bono family passed away. The current generation has so far not done anything with the restaurant nor with the old orange stand. In fact from the windows it still looks like it did the day it was closed, complete with table settings laid out. Other than that, a Historic Route 66 interstate sign is spray painted on the pavement just to the left of the stand. Hopefully one day this large orange will once again be a popular destination for food and drink.
Joe's Giant Orange Cafe in Shasta Lake inhabits another one of these old historical giant oranges. This orange was originally built in 1946 and use to be situated on Highway 99. Now, Joe's is a mix of American and Mexican food and if reviews are true one of the best places to eat in all of Shasta Lake. They apparently also serve excellent orange drinks like an orange shake.
Additionally there have been sightings of other giant oranges throughout California. These are not just possibly former Pohl Giant Orange Stands, but a whole host of differing competitors. Some have seen better days, where as others have recently found new life.
- Lemon Cove - On California Highway 198 just north of town.
- Chowchilla - Mammoth Orange. This giant orange was located around 22150 Avenue 22 1/2, Chowchilla, CA (Highway 99 north between Madera and Chowchilla, near the Highway 152 or Pacheco Pass offramp), but fell into disarray. It will return soon outside the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County in Chowchilla, hopefully sometime in the summer of 2013. The Fossil Discovery Center purchased it from the City of Chowchilla and intend to use it as a juice / hamburger stand outside the Center.
- Williams / Colusa - on 7th Street (old highway 99) is possibly an abandoned giant orange stand in disrepair.
- Riverside - outside the California Citrus State Historic Park is a mockup of a giant orange juice stand.
- Cartago - there's some strange orange hut like structure in this small town along Highway 395. Not really an old giant orange stand.
- Mike Jones of Missoula, MT on 2015-04-26 said:
- This may sound odd, but I am actually more nostalgic for the inoperable dilapidated ones, Those are the ones I remember from childhood road trips in the 70s, by then they were nearly all closed but still sitting on the side of the road, us kids got a huge kick seeing the old oranges.
- Bill Piercy of San Francisco, California on 2015-04-01 said:
As far back as I could remember, my father had driven our family into the San Joaquin furnace every summer to visit our kinfolks in Turlock and Earlimart. We always took the same route and after we got over the Altamont Pass and headed for Tracy, a familiar radio voice would crackle an invitation over our state-of-the-art low fidelity automobile receiver:
"Hot and thirsty?" the radio voice would inquire. "Well, just head for the Giant Orange high in the sky over Center Tracy!" And sure enough, there must have been half a dozen Giant Orange stands inside the central blocks of Tracy, California, each resembling a huge orange with service windows cut into its sides. High above the original Giant Orange, a radio tower rose high to broadcast an invitation to visit the Giant Orange stands. Halfway up the tower a huge mock-up orange was suspended in the sky.
"What could be better than a cup of ice-cold orange juice on a day like this?" the radio message droned on. "Well, all you need do is to head for the Giant Orange, high in the sky over center Tracy!"
Dad had actually stopped for a Giant Orange once, and let me tell you, it was cold and sweet on the first taste, and sweet and cold to the very end. But he knew the forty cents it cost for four cups of pleasure would be better spent in putting a little more gas in the tank and to my regret we never again stopped for another Giant Orange.
- Lj of Tracy, Ca on 2014-11-30 said:
- My first job was at the Giant Orange stand in Banta when I was 15. Yes, sliced tons of oranges for the best ever orange freezes.
- Scott of Turlock, CA on 2014-05-08 said:
- I remember Modesto CA having one on 7th street circa 1980s. But it was vacant for as long as I can remember.
- Anonymous on 2014-03-31 said:
- My Mom and Dad owned a giant orange called Chili Dog Junction back in the early 1950s. It was located on (then) hiway 99 on San Fernando Road in Pacoima, CA
- Big Chuckie of san jose, ca on 2013-09-14 said:
- The giant orange is alive and well in san jose I eat there twice a week. The best hot dogs hands down and the root beer float is to die for. Ive been going to Marks hot dogs since i was 6 years old. The fact they moved it closer to my house make sit that much sweeter. Anybody tries to tear it down and I will chain myself to it in protest
- Dan of Fresno, Ca on 2013-05-27 said:
- I remember when I was a kid we were traveling down the 99 freeway. Right around Earlimart Ca. There was one that was bearly standing with grafftii all over it. My parents were telling me all about the old big orange stands. Ever since then I took an interst in them. When the last one in Fairmead closed 5 years ago. It was a shame. That should of been a landmark the last of a dieing breed. Well good news is they are going to reopen it. Lets just hope they keep it the same. Alaska sized hamburgers.
- Doug Bashford of Fresno, CA on 2013-05-04 said:
- A small but improtant correction to the article: The Chowchilla/ Fairmeed - Mammoth Orange, The last standing Mammoth Orange, a historical landmark, did NOT fall "into disarray!" It's the one everybody is talking about that had it's freeway exit closed. (The Media has widely covered it's sad demise.) --Doug
- John Wohlf of Pomona, California on 2013-03-08 said:
- Bono's orange stand on foothill Blvd (route 66) is still standing; I pass by it several times a week on my way to the medical marijuana dispensary in Fontana.
- Lynn Staab of Madera, California on 2012-07-15 said:
- The Giant Orange of Chowchilla is being reassembled and will stand at the Fossil Discovery Center, off Highway 99 near Fairmead.
- Brenda of Nevada on 2012-07-15 said:
- If you want to read up on the history of these great old Orange Stands, get your hands on the out of print book "Those Unforgettable Giant Oranges" by Patricia Buckley; you can pick one up now and then on Amazon.com. Born and raised in the central valley these stands were a vital part of my childhood, and I miss them terribly....I watched them disappear and crumble over the decades.... We stopped there so many times, the Whoa Boy, the Mammoth Orange, etc. I appreciate this website's acknowledging them. They were an important part of "old California" for many of us....
- Coni of Rio Rico, Arizona on 2012-06-26 said:
- we had one on spring street in Paso Robles, California
- Misty of clovis, CA on 2012-06-20 said:
- I believe the Chowchilla one was the last one standing and it is now gone. The building is still there but it they took the orange out and it was a hamburger place for a while but now I think it's just an empty building.
- George C. of Fairfield, Ca on 2011-09-05 said:
- The last time I saw a Big Orange stand was in 1945 . The stand was located on the side of route 44 just after the Carquinez Bridge going west toward Pinole. I know we used to stop and buy orange juice on our way to Frisco. I also think they sold hamburgers and fries. I would ask my dad to put muster, pickle, and onion on mine. They also served greasy fried string bean potatoes in a cone shaped container. Best fries I ever had.I really miss that. I was about nine years old during that glorious period.
- MJPribyl of Tracy, CA on 2011-07-28 said:
- Besides the stand on 11th St. (Hwy 50) there was one at the east end of Grant Line Road. The sign for that one was still there until about 10 years ago, but not the stand itself.
- Joe of Detroiton 2011-04-17 said:
- I remember in the sixties a sign just before a Mammoth Orange warning that "The next orange is not a genuine Giant Orange"
- Les Beck of coarsegold, CA on 2011-03-07 said:
- I lived in Tracy CA in the 50's and the Giant Orange was owned by my next door neighbors Flo and Ollie Hartman. My first summer job was at the Giant Orange on Hwy 50 in Tracy. I sliced thousands of oranges in half that summer of 1961. The Giant Orange is long gone now but thousands of cars and busses would stop to refuel their thirsty bodies to and from the Bay area.
- Shellie Hansen of West Sacramento, CA on 2010-07-14 said:
- I noticed a few posts from the great grandchildren of Frank Pohl. My father has told me stories about his father building the Giant Orange juice stands from Davis to Tracy and they were called the Giant Orange. Unfortunatly my grandfather died in 1962, when my dad was 13 and my dad doesn't recall much. I did some research and found that my grandfather had been married to Frank Pohl's daughter Bernadette in the 1920's and 30's. They would have been married when these stands were started. I am wondering if maybe Frank and my grandfather Andrew James Hansen started the business together. My dad used to tell me the stories about his dad and the orange juice stands before he knew that his father had been married to Frank Pohl's daughter. I wounder why Andrew James Hansen receives zero credit when I am certain he played a significant role in these stands.
- Whitney of Shasta lake, Ca on 2010-06-29 said:
- I live in the neighborhood right behind the giant orange in Shasta lake. I know a lot of people at my high school love it And drive up here to take pictures with it. I'd love to share this new information about it with them. Also if you need any info or pictures of it let me know. They do serve a great breakfast!
- Richard P. of Tracy, Ca. on 2010-05-12 said:
- I grew up in Tracy, Ca. and remember the Giant Orange. It was along the old Highway 50 which is now 11th St.
Can anyone tell me why it was the first one that he opened?
- David of Shenzhen, China on 2010-03-23 said:
- We never had the money to spend on the juice, but the shape and color were right out of a story book. That bright orange enamel over stucco made for a brilliant giant orange. I became very familiar with the one on Highway 99 in Atwater, after it closed due to rerouting of the highway. I was 6 years old and ran my hands over the orange stucco and wished the place were mine.
- Bob Pasero of Orland, CA on 2010-03-10 said:
- The 'Giant Orange' near Redding is still there and was the subject of a news story tonight (3/10/10). You might also find it interesting to note that in Orland, California we had one of the "Giant Orange" predecessors a "Giant Lemon." It still exists as part of the Glenn County Fairground's "Heritage Trail."
- Bill Orr of Elk Grove, CA on 2010-03-08 said:
- The California roadside Oranges have been designated as #2 of the Ten Most Endangered Roadside Places by the Society for Commercial Archaeology. Take the Giant Orange pledge and read more about it and related newspaper articles by joining my new FaceBook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=photos&gid=344687814778
- Bruce Schmidt of Arnold , Calofornia on 2009-11-13 said:
- Frank E. Pohl was my great grandfather. he and my Grandfather ran the giant ornges for year. my mom is till alive and remembers a lot about the oranges. my grandfather used to build the oranges in his garage in Sacramneto,CA. i used to go with my dad to orange coumty to pick up oranges and lemons and grapefriut and limes during the summer time. it was aold truck and it vaporlocked a lot lot of fun. i have a book that a person in davis wrote about the giant oranges.
- Jim Lancaster of Tustin, CA on 2009-08-31 said:
- A few years ago one of Huell Howser's producers contacted me after seeing my California orange stand web page (see earlier comment). She said they were considering a program on the orange stands and asked for my help but when I contacted her later she indicated the idea had been dropped. Too bad.
- Anonymous on 2009-08-22 said:
- My parents owned and operated the Big Orange that stood on the corner of Paxton Blvd. and San Fernando Road in Pacoima, Ca. This was circa 1949-52.
- Geri Mott of Sacramento, CA on 2009-07-28 said:
- The "Giant Orange" stands were a welcome sight for travelers when driving in autos without A/C in the Summer. We always stopped at one just before entering Sacramento after visiting in the Bay Area. They were fun and the orange juice was delicious. I wish we had more of them today, and I also wish Huell Howser would do a segment on the story of the "Giant Orange."
- louise devries andrew of henderson, nevada on 2009-06-04 said:
- your picture on Bono's orange should show that it was built by Loomis P. DeVries, my grandfather, in 1936 for his orange stand named The Giant Orange, it is owned by the Fontana Historical Society not him, just because he is part of the society, he shouldn't claim it was built for his families stand, please correct your files, if you need more information i will be glad to provide the documentation
- Wayne Moore of Ponca City, OK on 2009-02-26 said:
- I remember working at a Mammoth Orange when I was a kid (1941 - 42) My parents ran a Richfield 76 gas station and motel north of Madera.. And it had a Giant Orange.. was on the west side of Hwy 99... The War put a bug crimp in travel and we left the business. My daughter was wondering if I or anyone had a photo of that orange.
- g.w. white of williams, ca. on 2008-09-18 said:
- We have a giant Orange in Williams, ca. highway 99 and J st.
- Jim Lancaster of Tustin, CA on 2008-04-25 said:
- For more photos of California Orange stands see
- Diane of Fresno, CA on 2008-04-04 said:
- I work for a moving company here in Fresno, we would like to help move the Giant Orange to Chowchilla. Please
- Craig H. of Ruskin, FL on 2008-03-10 said:
- Hey, even the editors of Hot Rod Magazine were so moved by the loss of the Mammoth Orange near Chowchilla that they published a full page memorial to the place in the May, 2008 issue. I can empathize completely because we are losing many of our "Old Florida" roadside attractions in the name of "progress"(?) in my beloved home state. I love my state and yours as well. I find myself reluctant to say farewell to the way things used to be. I know that it's impossible to miss what you never had, but it's unfortunate for future generations to miss out on the simple pleasures we all once enjoyed. Bigger, newer and glitzier are seldom BETTER.
- Richard Pistoresi of Eagle Point, OR on 2008-03-08 said:
- My great grandfather was Frank E Pohl. As a young teenager, I remember working in the stands, cutting oranges, lemons, and limes as well as crushing large blocks of ice. We could go through hundreds of cases of oranges on any summer holiday weekend. The original orange stands of Madera, CA., were move to Ave 24 in Chowchilla CA. I don't believe either of them remain today.
- s.cain of Washington on 2008-03-07 said:
- My great grandfather Frank Pohl started his Giant Orange venture in 1926. I have many memories of working at the stand, meeting such a neat cross section of travelers. The back room was filled with crates of oranges and I will never forget the wonderful smell as I walked into the room to grab more oranges. Thanks for keeping the memory alive.
- Michael H of Redding, CA on 2007-12-17 said:
- The City of Shasta Lake Orange is alive and well. It is reputed to serve one of the best breakfasts in Shasta county. Try the steak breakfast!
- Chelsea of Kingsburg, CA on 2007-08-15 said:
- Yup, there's a Mammoth Orange in Chowchilla. It's the highlight of the highway.
Sadly, they're doing some highway work and taking off the highway exits and building a new offramp, so it's closed, for sale, and i'm pretty sure they're going to move it. Last i heard, a buyer was interested in turning [it] into a grocery store. Let's just stick together and hope these unique places keep serving delicious orange juice, whatever happens.
- Don G on 2007-08-03 said:
- I've heard from several friends in the past few days that the Mammoth
Orange near Chowchilla, CA, has closed. Apparently the local Fresno
television stations covered the story on its last day of business.
- Don G on 2007-06-19 said:
- The biggest change that has happened there recently was the closing of the
center divider of Highway 99 that formerly allowed southbound drivers to
turn across the northbound lanes to access the business. In the central San
Joaquin Valley it has long been possible to actually cross the roadway of
Highway 99 at many points, a leftover from the days when a farmer had land
to deal with on both sides of the highway and needed to move his equipment
across both directions of traffic. As you might imagine, there have been
some spectacular crashes because of that feature. Now the state has become
serious about eliminating all those crossings, one of them being at the
Mammoth Orange. I imagine it has adversely affected their business, though
the locals still know how to get there from the north, while most highway
drivers that aren't from around here were probably too intimidated by the
idea of crossing the highway to try it anyway. I haven't talked to the
owner, but the
workers there don't seem to know of any definite timetable for the closure
of the exit that allows you to pull off the highway, drive through the
opening in the fence that borders it and drive the 50 feet to the orange
stand. The nearest legitimate freeway exit that will survive once the
highway is upgraded to official "freeway" status is about one-half mile
away. With proper signage the business could still remain where it is, but
it would certainly suffer from the loss of those people who spontaneously
pull off to eat and look at the place. I'll let you know what is happening.
- Don on 2007-03-31 said:
- There definitely is a Giant Orange stand near Chowchilla, CA--I just ate there about 45 minutes ago. This one operates under the name "Mammoth Orange" and is apparently the last of it's kind along Hwy. 99. The original structure is used only for order-taking and preparation of sodas and shakes (they do a wonderful orange shake). A conventional building was added to the rear of the sheet metal orange 10 or 12 years ago to house the upgraded kitchen and bathrooms required by state/county ordinance. The stand is located at one of the old intersections that still exist on rural portions of Hwy. 99 where it is possible to cross the highway. The state is in the process of eliminating these often dangerous crossings and the changes that are planned for the highway are the reason the business is in constant danger of being closed. The latest word, as of late March, '07, is that it will be forced to close in about six months, though there have been a number of previous closing dates that have passed with the business still in operation. The current (and fairly recent) owners of the business have hopes of moving the Orange to the nearly town of Chowchilla. Up until a couple of years ago there was another (derelict) Orange almost directly across the freeway, but it was finally removed. The fact that there were two within several hundred yards of each other is testament to how common they were at one time. The Mammoth Orange is located on the northbound side of Hwy. 99, just south of the intersection with Hwy. 152. If you'd like more information, let me know.
- Gary of Dixon, California on 2007-01-23 said:
The Dixon Orange is for sale.
- Roadside Giants (2005) by Butko, Brian and Sarah, p: 57
Last Edited: 2015-06-19