Evolution of Citrus Labels
Riverside is greatly known as the Citrus Industry and for its agriculture. Oranges and a variety of other citrus fruits were grown locally for the residents to enjoy. It all started in the 1870s when a mutant Brazilian orange tree, a tree that produced fruit without any seeds, started to flourish with the help of the rich soil from Santa Ana River. Soon enough, the naval orange had dominated all over Riverside and California and groups of growers joined together to sell fruit under one name, Sunkist. However in 1880 when the transcontinental railroad was finished, it shifted how the growers were going to market their crops because people were starting to move west, and they needed a plan to sell wholesale to the east. To differentiate which crops belonged to which growers, the Citrus Industry came up with citrus labels.
These citrus labels definitely have evolved over the years. They first started of with stenciling, stamping, or branding the fruit crates and then growers switched over to rectangular paper labels. Not only have the citrus labels itself changed over the years, but also the design of it changed. These citrus labels portray three different stylistic periods: the naturalistic, advertising, and commercial periods. The naturalistic period was between mid 1880s to the end of World War I, and it depicted the southern California landscapes, orange harvesting, as well as the grower's homes. Since printing technology was not as savvy back then, these labels were very natural and realistic.
Last but not least, the commercial art period (1935- 1955) portrayed the last stage of the citrus labels.They had moved on from older techniques, and pursued photolithography, which decreased advertising costs. Finding ways to decrease the production costs was crucial during this period due to The Depression. Labels had shifted to using bold colors and block letters to catch the eye of the buyers. These citrus labels not only play as a representative of Riverside's citrus industry's history, but it also portrays the evolution of printing and how technology has correlated with the quality of printing. Banner4sale got the amazing opportunity to print these large citrus label banners pictured above. These brightly colored, large vinyl banners were installed in Downtown Riverside, on 9th street for the locals to see. It's great to see how much printing has evolved over the years!