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Time for an old-fashioned juice debate

time-for-an-old-fashioned-juice-debate

Man holding out glass of orange juice

Photo: SABAH ARAR/AFP (Getty Images)

Yesterday, Reuters reported that PepsiCo is selling off Tropicana and several other juice brands to the tune of a cool $3.3 billion. Per the article, PepsiCo is hoping to “simplify its product range and move away from high-sugar drinks,” using funds from the sale to “grow its portfolio of health-focused snacks and zero-calorie beverages.”

This should come as no surprise; if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll recall that we recently wrote about the so-called wellness drinks dominating the market. These sparkling, coconut water-infused, sugar-free, vaguely astringent beverages have been booming since the mid-2000s. That’s when consumers started dumping sugary drinks, presumably as a trauma response to low-rise jeans’ reign of terror. (Around this time, I met a girl whose parents paid her $100 for every year she went without taking a sip of soda. Freaks!!!)

The surge of low-sugar, high-performance beverages got me thinking about one of my favorite little treats: fruit juice. I’m not talking about the kind of juice you snag at juice bars, which are typically staffed by beautiful youngsters who haven’t considered the cultural implications of being a white person with dreadlocks. I’m talking about fruit juice from concentrate, the breakfast accompaniment of old.

Me, I still enjoy a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ at the beginning of the day. And yet public perception of fruit juice seems to have gone right down the toilet. When Aubrey Gordon, writer and host of the Maintenance Phase podcast, recently asked her Twitter followers to identify a food that was once seen as “healthy” but is now widely viewed as “unhealthy,” a ton of people mentioned fruit juice, with one user equating a glass of orange juice in 2021 with “parental sugar shame” akin to cookies and candy.

So, my question for you: where do you stand on fruit juice? Yeah, we’re all aware of its high sugar content. But do you still enjoy and/or drink it, regardless of its shift in status over the years? Do you still seek it out for its ostensible vitamin C benefits, or would you liken it more to a pick-me-up like soda? Finally, is Ocean Spray still airing those commercials where the guy squishes the cranberries with his feet? Let’s chat.

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