Florida Citrus Crate Labels

By Anthony Woodside

Florida Southern College, the McKay Archives Center is home to the Florida Citrus Archives. The Citrus Crate Label Collection is a part of the Florida Citrus Archives and contains digitized labels from the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. The majority of these labels come from private collector James Ellis who has contributed much to the Citrus Archives.
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Citrus labels first appeared in the late 1880’s out of the California citrus industry. By 1887, the citrus industry had grown so dramatically that as the demand for California citrus grew, it became necessary to identify their point of origin. Thus was born the California orange-crate label.
During the 1940’s, the usage of citrus labels began to decline. Due to the shortages of wood and metal brought on by World War II, the manufacture of the wooden crate boxes was discontinued and instead replaced by cardboard boxes. These cardboard boxes came with pre-printed brand names so there was no need to use a crate label with them.
 As the traditional wooden crate was replaced by the cardboard box, the use of labels declined before the art finally disappeared entirely in 1956, when the last labels were used.