Orange juice is nutritionally not much better than soda but somehow has earned a place at the American breakfast table as a refreshing and healthy vitamin shot. How did it gain that reputation?
McCollum ignited a panic over a nebulous condition called acidosis: an excess of acid in the bloodstream which supposedly caused fatigue and lassitude. He claimed the ailment was brought on by consuming meat, eggs and bread, which were acid producers. His advice: Eat lots of citrus fruit and lettuce. These foods rather counterintuitively were transformed from acid into alkaline in the stomach. Unsurprisingly, citrus producers seized upon this new health scare.
Back in the 1920’s, orange juice was an awful boiled canned juice. When WWII came around, the U.S. Army needed to stave off scurvy among its soldiers by providing a tasty Vitamin C product.