The Eadington family first became involved in citrus fruit in 1916
and continued for more than 80 years. The family lived in northern Orange
County, California, and their citrus activity flourished before dwindling
as the land that produced the oranges and lemons was switched from orchards
to residential homes.
In 1950 Eadington Fruit Company’s expanded citrus packing and
distributing operations became the largest in California. It is interesting
that fruit grown in Florida supplied Eadington’s last California
venture in frozen concentrated fruit juice.
The Eadington family’s myriad of changes in brand names and attendant
images exemplified the citrus boom and decline in Southern California.
Changes included the acquisition, transition and demise of shipping
box brands with replacement of images and takeover of previous owner’s
brands complete with images. The redesigns followed the advertising
graphic trends of the industry.
Label historian and label collector Gordon McClelland has classified
three periods of label design: Naturalism (landscapes, flowers, and
animals), Advertising (Indians, children, and pretty girls drinking
juice), and Commercial Art (just brand name in three-dimensional bold
letters). These periods evolved by the wholesaler’s need to quickly
recognize quality brands when the fruit boxes were stacked in auction
The brand names that the Eadington family was associated with ranged
from the aristocratic Imperial Extra Fancy fruit to the common Disney
character Donald Duck frozen juice. The family brand names totalled
more than 30, which consisted of original ones, those acquired from
purchases of other companies such as T.R Davies and Benchley Fruit Company,
and those from companies going out of business such as Sunny Hills Citrus
Association and Yorba Linda Citrus Association. Eadington Fruit held
legal rights to the brands, but did not necessarily actively use all
Eventually the citrus fruit brands were gone when Eadington ceased
its fruit packing in 1996, but some of the frozen juice brands such
as Donald Duck, Tip Top, Real Gold, and Minute Maid that Eadington associated
with lived on.
Benchley Fruit Company
The first member of the Eadington family to enter the citrus industry
was Thomas James Eadington. He was a native of Lancaster, England, and
came to Fullerton, California in 1911. He became secretary and manager
of the Benchley Fruit Company in Fullerton in 1916. Benchley Fruit was
founded in 1900 by E.K. Benchley, and was purchased by W.L. Benchley
in 1912. Benchley was shipping at a capacity of 500 cars a year in 1921.
Benchley designed the Acme, Friar, Good Oranges, Premium, and Superior
brands. Both their Superior and Premium brand labels underwent complete
redesigns as shown below.
Placentia Packing Company
In 1920, Thomas James Eadington severed his connection with Benchley
Fruit, and purchased the orange and lemon packing business of R.T. Davies
in Placentia. Eadington called his new business the Placentia Packing
Company. He packed under the Friar brand originated by Davies with Friar
Blue for Fancy fruit and Friar Red for choice grade.
Fullerton Packing Company
In 1923, Thomas James Eadington sold the Placentia Packing Company,
including the packinghouse and equipment to J.H. Strait & Co. of
Redlands. He then built a new packinghouse in Fullerton doing business
under the name of Fullerton Packing Company, where he packed using the
following brands: California Maid (Choice and Orchard Run), Friar Blue
(Fancy), and Friar Red (Choice).
Eadington Fruit Company
In 1924, Thomas James Eadington, in partnership with Carl Hollingsworth,
bought Benchley Fruit Company. He later changed the name of the company
to Eadington Fruit Company. Eadington Fruit was the last operational
packinghouse in Fullerton when it was dismantled in 1996.
When his father died in 1933, Thomas James Eadington, Jr. joined the
firm. When the president, Carl Hollingsworth, retired in in 1945, Thomas
Jr. became president. When he died of a heart attack in 1965, Secretary
D.A. Collins became president.
Also, in 1965, grandson Thomas Eadington joined the firm. Tom worked
his way up in the organization, and by his fifth year he became vice
president, and was in charge of one the largest privately held citrus
businesses in California. He became president of Eadington Fruit Company
in 1983, and was elected to various boards of directors, including the
Board of Sunkist Growers. Tom remained a key board member at Sunkist
for more than seven years.
Thomas Eadington was probably the last family member to be active
in the citrus industry. He left Eadington Fruit after 1996, when the
Fullerton packinghouse was demolished, but before retiring, probably
participated in some of Eadington’s joint citrus enterprises.
Originally the company was an independent distributor, but then joined
regional cooperatives. A review of box labels reveals that Eadington
distributed at different times through Sunkist, American Fruit Growers
(Blue Goose), and Mutual Orange Distributors as well as independently.
Eadington acquired Acme, Superior, Premium, and Good Oranges brand labels
from Benchley, and Eadington's first use of both Premium and Superior
blacked out “Benchley Fruit Company” on the outer ring of
the label image, and overprinted “Eadington Fruit Company”
on the inner circles.
The shipping box with the boy still had Benchley on the side slats of
the box as well as Benchley on the box label graphic.
The next Eadington version was a new design with “Eadington Fruit
Company” replacing “Benchley Fruit Company,” but the
image was the same except the “Benchley” names on the shipping
box graphic were erased. The last images used on Eadington’s Imperial,
Montezuma, Premium, and Superior brands include family crests. It is
possible that the Imperial, Premium, or Superior image was the crest
of the Eadington family.
Other Eadington brands included Dulce, and Imperial. The Dulce brand
had a photographic image of a glass of orange juice and a bowl of oranges,
as pictured below. A file copy of this label, dated July 1947, has annotations
by Eadington staff including the deletion of the glass of orange juice
as well as “OK” signed by T. Eadington. The modification
suggested the design of two new labels: one without the glass of orange
juice, and the other with just three oranges and nothing else. In the
bottom right border is “Flavorseal,” the name of a commercial
wax. Another printing of the label is known that does not have the Flavorseal
annotation. Most Eadington fruit labels were printed by Western Lithography
of Los Angeles.
The Imperial brand was originally used by Foothill Valencia Growers
of the City of Orange. Foothill was organized in 1912, and Eadington
probably obtained rights to the Imperial trademark in 1923 when Foothill
was purchased by Red Fox Orchards.
The Montezuma brand remained popular in the 1960s when all shipping
boxes were constructed of corrugated cardboard instead of wood. The
brand image was pre-printed on the cardboard with no more than two colors.
In the example below, “Eadington Fruit Co.” is printed beneath
Sunny Hills Citrus Association and El Ranchito Citrus Association
The Sunny Hills Ranch packinghouse was just west of Spadra Blvd. (now
Harbor) at Bastanchury in Fullerton. The packinghouse was served by
three spurs of the Pacific Electric Railway in 1916. In addition to
Sunny Hills Ranch, the Eadington Fruit Growers Cooperative had a packinghouse
in the complex where empty refrigerated cars were dropped off for their
use. It is believed that Eadington acquired the right to use the Montezuma
Brand from El Ranchito Citrus after 1947, as trademark records show
El Ranchito to be the owner at that time. Eadington probably obtained
the Esteem brand from Sunny Hills Citrus Association in 1948.
Interaction with Other Fruit Companies
The Yorba Linda Citrus Association started in 1912, and used its top
quality brand, Yorba, the following year. According to trademark records,
Eadington obtained the right to use the Yorba brand next, and then California
Citrus Corporation finally acquired the brand in 1942. Trademark records
indicate that Eadington obtained the Thrift brand in 1923 which was
previously held by Yorba Linda Citrus. There is no known use of the
brand by Eadington, but it was used by Yorba Linda for standard quality
oranges and lemons.
It is interesting to note that circa 1938 Thomas James Eadington Jr.
married Elizabeth Bastanchury who was a member of the Fullerton Bastanchury
family. That family owned the Bastanchury Ranch Company which boasted
the world’s largest orange and lemon orchards, totalling 2,000
acres. Whether the marriage affected the Eadington and Bastanchury operations
Expansion to Other Locations and Produce
The Year 1950 was big for Eadington Fruit Company. It became the largest
packing and shipping operation in the State of California. It entered
into handling and packing lemons that year. At the time, Thomas Eadington,
Jr. was president and his brother Paul was the secretary-treasurer of
Eadington Fruit Company. By 1956, Eadington Fruit Company was affiliated
with packinghouses in Lindsay, Santa Paula, Saticoy, Pomona, Upland,
Redlands, Highland, and Yuma, Arizona. These houses, combined, shipped
nearly three million boxes of citrus a year.
In 1959, they formed Davis-Eadington Enterprises and started an acquisition
program, which in addition to citrus, marketed California deciduous
fruit (for example, Rivermaid pears). In 1970, the company managed 13
packing operations and more than 25,000 acres of orchards. Eadington
officers served on the boards of Sunkist Growers and Blue Goose.
Additionally, Eadington was the largest marketer of apples and peaches
in the Southeastern United States. In California, Eadington also grew
avocados, had officers on the Calavo Growers Board, and was a member
of the California Avocado Society.
Golden Citrus Juices
In 1949, Eadington’s citrus fruit operations expanded to include
frozen concentrate products, although they were late comers. Much earlier
in 1932, Val Vita citrus juice plant was established in Fullerton, and
in 1938 Mutual Orange Distributors started a new by-products plant,
Cal-Juices, in Anaheim. Eadington Fruit Company and American Fruit Growers
incorporated Golden Citrus Juices in 1949, and Thomas James Eadington,
Jr. became president. The principal product was frozen juice concentrate,
but they also produced other citrus products such as lemonade. Oranges
were supplied directly by conveyor belt from Eadington’s packinghouse.
However, other orange produce came from as far away as Arizona. Florida
orange juice was shipped to Fullerton by rail until they switched to
In its first year of operation, the plant produced 15 million, six-ounce
cans of frozen orange concentrate and several hundred thousand cases
of assorted canned juices. The frozen juice was marketed under the Blue
Minute Maid Corporation
Minute Maid Corporation acquired a one-third interest in Golden Citrus
Juices in 1953, and the frozen juice was then sold under labels of Minute
Maid for lemonade and Tip Top for orange juice. Finally, in 1959, Eadington
sold its share of Golden Citrus Juices plant to Minute Maid.
World Citrus West
Later, a series of exchanges took places on the Golden Citrus Juices
property. It became home to Holly Pak and Paramount Citrus in 1965,
Polar Orchard Products in 1975, and World Citrus Inc. in 1981. World
Citrus, owned by a Florida citrus cooperative, packed "Donald Duck,”
a brand of frozen orange juice. In the early 1980s, they created a unit
called World Citrus West which in turn purchased the Golden Citrus Juice
plant in Fullerton. The oranges were shipped from Florida and processed
and canned in Fullerton. See the can label below with the annotation
”Frozen Florida ORANGE Juice.”
The local redevelopment agency purchased the former World Citrus West
property (also known as Donald Duck Orange Juice) late in 2008, in collaboration
with the Orange County Transit Authority and Caltrans for the construction
of a parking structure. The plant was demolished in late 2010.
Eadington Fruit Company Presidents
Since there were three consecutive generations of Eadingtons with the
same given name of Thomas, and one named Paul, all who were presidents
of Eadington Fruit Company, this may cause confusion. The table below
provides some distinguishing facts.
|Thomas James Eadington
||Mary Winifred Cottram
||1924 to 1932
||1933 to 1945
|Thomas James Eadington, Jr.
||1945 to 1965
||1965 to 1972
|Paul Francis Eadington
||Oma Amanda Read
||1972 to 1980
||1983 to 1996
- Thomas Pulley, Southern California citrus industry historian
- Fullerton Public Library, Local History Room
- Pomona Public Library, Special Collections website
- Citrus Roots Brands website
- Justia Trademarks website
- Jay T. Last Collection of California Citrus Box Labels, Huntington
- Noel Gilbert citrus label collection
- Wil Bennett citrus label collection
- John Bowen citrus label collection (email@example.com)
Since the publication of this article, the Fullerton Public
Library has obtained and exhibited a photograph of an early Eadington
Fruit Company packinghouse dedicated to packing and distributing walnuts.
Processing walnuts is another example of the family's entrepreneurial
spirit. Note "WALNUTS" appears directly beneath the company
name in the photograph below.