Sunkist and the Orange Blossom Special

Just from looking at the designs on the handles of these three fruit spoons, you would think they were all manufactured by the same company:

Orange and Lemon Design Motifs on Fruit Spoons

Orange and Lemon Design Motifs on Fruit Spoons

The pattern in the center appears to feature all oranges while the other two incorporate lemons as well.

Fruit at Bottom of Handle as Well

Fruit at Bottom of Handle as Well

But, the fact is, the center spoon was made by William Rogers & Son and the other two were made by Oneida Community.

Backstamps for Wm. Rogers and O.C.

Backstamps for Wm. Rogers and O.C.

The Wm. Rogers & Son pattern was designed by Gustave Strohhaker and assigned to International Silver.  Wm. Rogers was then a member company of International Silver.

Strohhaker Patent No. 40684 May 10, 1910

Strohhaker Patent No. 40684 May 10, 1910

I believe this pattern was offered for a brief time by Sunkist as a premium, although I have not been able to find any advertising to support this belief.  The following was taken from Wikipedia:

“In an effort to distinguish Sunkist oranges from others, the CFGE (California Fruit Growers Exchange) wrapped its oranges in paper stamped with the Sunkist brand. But in 1909, after Sunkist learned that merchants were selling non-Sunkist oranges as Sunkist, it began to offer consumers a free Sunkist-branded spoon in exchange for mailing in twelve Sunkist wrappers. One million spoons were claimed in the first year of the promotion, further establishing the brand in consumers’ minds and giving merchants a reason to want to display Sunkist oranges in their original wrappers. By 1910, the promotion had resulted in Sunkist becoming the world’s largest purchaser of cutlery.”

Interestingly enough, later that same year, Gustave Strohhaker obtained another patent:

Strohhaker Patent No. 40997

Strohhaker Patent No. 40997

You’ll note that this second design was for a “spoon, fork or similar article” whereas the first was for a spoon only.  And the second was assigned to International Silver as well.  This second design was a floral pattern…floral patterns in general were popular at the time.

At first, this floral pattern was simply referred to as the “Sunkist Design”:

The Sunkist Design

The Sunkist Design

The wording above was taken from a pamphlet issued by Sunkist.  You’ll note that they refer to the “graceful orange blossoms” within the Sunkist Design.  They also state “you will not be content until you have obtained a complete table service”.

California Fruit Growers Exchange Publication Referring to the Sunkist Design

California Fruit Growers Exchange Publication Referring to the Sunkist Design

The Montreal Gazette ran a Sunkist ad in a May 1912 issue of their newspaper and the following was part of that ad.  You will note that it reads “Genuine Rogers and of the latest style” which indicates that this floral design replaced the original orange design.  This ad also lists fourteen different flatware pieces offered in this new pattern.

1912 Issue of The Montreal Gazette

1912 Issue of The Montreal Gazette

The following quote was taken from a 1914 California Fruit Growers Exchange circular:  “…people all over the country the last year have been calling for “Sunkist” fruit, because they know that the word stands for something.  On the wrap is printed, “Twelve of these wraps and 20 cents in stamps sent to our Chicago office will secure a premium spoon.  The spoon is of neat design that any woman would pay from 60 to 75 cents for.” 

By 1915, a full line of 46 different pieces was being offered in this floral pattern.  However, at this point in time they are no longer referred to the Sunkist Design nor are they referring to it by any other name:

1915 The Literary Digest, Volume 50

1915 The Literary Digest, Volume 50

Later, however, the following 1915 ad does mention “exclusive Orange Blossom design” and shows all the flatware and hollowware pieces offered:

1915 The Saturday Evening Post, Volume 187, Issue 4

1915 The Saturday Evening Post, Volume 187, Issue 4

So by 1915, this new floral design has been named “Orange Blossom” and is being offered as a full service set.  It makes sense that the original “orange” design was dropped and the floral “Orange Blossom” pattern was adopted if they wanted to expand their offering to a full service set…who would want their entire table set with a simple orange design?  It certainly is suitable for a fruit spoon but not to serve lamb stew, do you know what I mean?

Patents run for a period of seven years.  In 1917 the original orange design of Gustave Strohhaker was not renewed:

The Jewelers' Circular Volume 74 Issue 2 July 18, 1917

The Jewelers’ Circular Volume 74 Issue 2 July 18, 1917

Perhaps it was at this point that Oneida Community picked up on this expired patent design and offered two variations of it as fruit spoons.  I do not see that they ever applied for a patent for these variations.  I have seen these Oneida Community designs referred to as “Orange”, however in Davis and Deibel’s “Silver Plated Flatware Patterns”, they call the narrower handle variation “Oneida Community Three” and don’t show the other variation at all.  And one other interesting tidbit, I have never seen Oneida Community use that “O.C” mark on any other design.  I don’t know if these “O.C.” fruit spoons were offered as premiums; I haven’t seen evidence that they were.

Personally, I love the Oneida Community designs.  The detail is exquisite, the spoons are well made and of heavy weight.  If you are an orange / fruit spoon aficionado, all three of these patterns, the two Oneida Community and the one Wm. Rogers & Son, would make a lovely addition to your collection.  Keep in mind that the Wm. Rogers orange spoon was only offered for a limited period of time, so although many of them were sold as premiums, they are still somewhat on the rare side.

These three spoons are available for sale at my Etsy shop:




This entry was posted in California Fruit Growers Exchange, fruit spoon, Gustave Strohhaker, O. C., Oneida Community, Orange Blossom design, orange spoon, silverplate, Sunkist, William Rogers & Son, Wm. Rogers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Sunkist and the Orange Blossom Special

  1. KerryCan says:

    I’ve never seen any of these! Imagine how popular they could be in Florida–all those people serving oranges to guests from New York and Connecticut! I wish companies still gave away cool stuff for free . . .

  2. Pingback: A GRAPHIC NOVEL FROM 1930 | Simanaitis Says

  3. Christine Czarnecki says:

    I cannot thank you enough for posting this wonderful piece about the Rogers Orange Blossom pattern.

    I inherited some of the fruit spoons from my great grandmother, via my grandmother and my mother. To this day, we use them to eat grapefruit, and I absolutely treasure them.

    My mother’s cousin told me the story about the Orange Blossom pattern and how his grandmother came by those spoons. I have never seen the advertisements before, and they are wonderful to behold.

    When our daughter became engaged, the first gift I gave her and her fiance was four of these special Orange Blossom spoons, with the story about their orgins and how they have come through the family to them. Now I have even more detail about this very special pattern to our family. Thank you!

  4. Elaine Connolly says:

    Thank you so much for this information. I was glad to be clear what was the original Sunkist spoon. My ancestors worked in the Cucamonga area at the time Sunkist started and I am looking for a very good condition set of the Orange spoons. Kind Regards.

  5. Lundy Wilder says:

    Hi from the Gulf Coast–Alabama.
    I came to your wonderfully informative page whilst looking for info on my set of seven Orange pattern Rodgers Sunkist fruit spoons that I just picked up on ebay for $10. They badly needed polishing but are gleaming now !! I plan to print your excellent documentation and put it in my silver drawer so after I am dead and gone, those picking through my stuff will be able to read the history of these lovely spoons.

    • queenofsienna says:

      Your comment made me chuckle. After I’m dead and gone they’ll probably just fill up a dumpster. No research involved.

  6. cmdviola says:

    Wonderful compilation of research! Very impressive and I hope I can find this information again when I actually have some of those spoons! Good Job!

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