A juice drink, or just “juice,” is a beverage that contains natural fruits and/or vegetables. Fruit juice on the other hand, can only be legally called fruit juice in the U.S. if it is made with 100% juice. The fruits or vegetables in juice drinks and fruit juices are squeezed either by hand or machine without the use of any heat or solvents. Pulp is either filtered out or left in depending on consumer preference, followed by a heating process to remove water. The fruit juice concentrate is then pasteurized to kill any bacteria and then bottled in juice containers. Invented in 1864 in France, this pasteurization method allowed juice to be preserved without fermentation and helped juice drinks gain popularity.
To really appreciate the concoction, one would have to look at the history of juice drinks. It is said there is evidence of “juice cleanses” as early as 150 B.C. to 70 A.D., when people mashed figs and pomegranate into a liquid and consumed it to gain strength. One of the first official juice beverages however, is lemonade, brought to Italy from the Middle East as early as the 16th century. Orange juice was created by the 17th century, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that juices really began to make their mark. Scottish physician James Lind discovered citrus fruits prevented scurvy, resulting in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1867 where all British ships were required to have citrus juices onboard.
Juice drinks were eventually introduced to the U.S. in 1869 by Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch of Vineland, NJ. Dr. Welch wanted to create a “wine” for church parishioners that would be both unfermented and sacramental. He pasteurized juices from Concord grapes, ultimately launching the processed fruit juice industry with his brand now known as Welch’s Grape Juice. Then, in 1936, British businessman Norman Walker who lived in New York published a book called Raw Vegetable Juices. Walker promoted a fruit and vegetable diet, resulting in the invention of The Norwalk Hydraulic Press Juicer, what we know of today as juicing machines. Walker lived to be 118 years old, and the Norwalk Juicer is still sold today.
Since Norman Walker’s time, a large part of the juice culture has been about getting nutrition. With people seeking healthier lifestyles, natural juice companies have emerged. The most prevalent juice company in the U.S. is Jamba Juice, founded in 1990 by cyclist Kirk Perron. Jamba Juice strives to provide healthy meal replacements with blended frozen fruits and vegetables. Jamba Juice now dominates the juice industry, with 287 company-owned stores in the U.S., 517 franchise-operated stores and 45 international locations. Stores like Jamba Juice fuel the demand for healthy juice drinks, yet many want to receive their boost in ready-to-drink (RTD) form.
This demand inspired juice brands such as BluePrint Juices and Starbucks’ Evolution Fresh to make cold-pressed juice, where the process requires no heat or pasteurization. Although considered a specialty drink in most places, these organic juice companies are all over cities like Los Angeles and New York. Entrepreneurs have rushed to start cold-pressed juices, but many found it more challenging than they thought. If not refrigerated properly or if they are left out by a delivery driver, cold-pressed juices can rapidly decrease in shelf life. The companies who have managed to stay in the game do so with immense dedication and quality control, proving their abilities with astounding statistics. The juice industry brings in 2.3 billion dollars per year, with 100 million solely from cold-pressed juices that can bought at locations with refrigeration. However, if you want to browse bottled juices, sparkling juices, or other fruit drinks that you can buy online, you can do so at our Specialty Sodas website.