The Sunkist Connection

by Dan Kramer
Volume 17 No. 2 - September 1990

In 1916, glass reamers were made available from Sunkist growers to encourage the consumption of oranges with a "Drink an Orange" Yellow advertising campaign. The first Sunkist reamers were embossed "Sunkist Oranges and Lemons," and "Sunkist - California Fruit Growers Exchange, Los Angeles." These were made of transparent green and sold in variety stores as well as grocery stores for the sum of just 10 cents. You could also order these reamers by mail, for 16 cents in the United States, or for 24 cents in Canada. These two earliest Sunkist reamers were manufactured in Los Angeles, CA, by Pacific Coast Glass Works.

In November 1925, William Bristol obtained a patent for his design of a fruit extractor, and in a short time, it became the most produced reamer in the United States.

Sunkist quickly made "Sunkist" a household word. The reamers were advertised in Good Housekeeping, and promised to hold more juice, extract juice easier with its higher cone and sharper bridges and be easier to transfer the juice with an easy-pour handle. Also in Opalescent Fry 1925, Citrograph Magazine ads showed the reamers being manufactured by the Sunset Glass Company.

To promote the reamers, Sunkist devised several premiums, which were sold separately or included as a free gift along with the purchase of a reamer. Among the premiums offered with the purchase of a case of oranges were: monthly cookbooks, hostess dishes and serving sets, juice dispensers and tableware. Sunkist even designed and manufactured its own sterling flatware in a pattern named Orange Blossom. The flatware was not sold in sets, and could only be obtained as premiums, one at a time.

Sunkist sales soared and so did the demand for increased production of the premiums. In mid 1926, Sunset Glass Works was replaced by the McKee Glass Company of Jeanette, Pennsylvania as the exclusive manufacturer of the Sunkist reamer. McKee made mold modifications to improve quality control and increase production. They began to produce the reamers in a rainbow of colors which included clear and opaque glass. The color varieties of this reamer are endless and include 18 shades: white milk glass, transparent green, jadite, pink, custard, Milk Glass yellow, fry opal, dark jade, crystal, caramel, blue milk glass, crown tuscan, green fry, ivory, black, teal blue, and butterscotch. Mutations of these colors turn up regularly and are unexplained, making these highly collectable.

McKee manufactured the Sunkist reamer until 1951, when they sold out to the Thatcher Glass Company. Thatcher added "Thatcher Glass Mfg. Co., Elmira, N.Y. Licensed Sunkist Mfg." Another change was made by Thatcher, and that was to only manufacture white milk glass reamers. So, from 1951 on, Sunkist reamers were produced only in white.

The last order placed by the Sunkist Growers Inc. was in 1956, and even though Thatcher continued to manufacture the reamer, as did Jeanette Glass Company when it purchased Thatcher Glass in 1961, Sunkist maintained the patent to the reamer.

Jeanette discontinued production of the Sunkist reamer in 1965 and brought about an end not only to a reamer, but to the Sunkist Connection.

Sunkist Reamer ad