Frozen orange juice concentrate was invented by Cedric Donald Atkins and his research team in the 1940’s, revolutionising the Florida citrus industry. Atkins was born on September 7, 1913, in Winter Haven. His father James H. Atkins was a railroad telegraph operator, and his mother Christina, an elementary school teacher. In 1887 the Atkins family had inherited several hundred acres of land on which they planted orange groves, earning themselves a second income. Cedric attended the University of Florida for three years, intending to study medicine. However, when his parents ran out of money, he transferred to Florida Southern College, financing his education by teaching science at the college. In 1937, Atkins graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. After earning his degree, Atkins taught high school and coached football in Fort Meade, Plant City and Winter Haven.
In the 1940’s, C.D. Atkins was asked by the Florida Citrus Commission to improve the quality of processed orange products, to help produce better juice for the armed forces, and at the same time improve the efficiency of Florida’s orange crop. In 1942, he became a research scientist with the federal Department of Agriculture. At the time, the concentration process of heating juice until water evaporates was well known, however it was not completely effective. Working in a laboratory provided US Department of Agriculture in Lakeland Florida, Atkins and his team invented a method known as the cutback process, where a juice manufacturer could retain the flavour of their drink by adding fresh juice to the concentrate and then freezing it. The cutback process also created a more nutritious product by restoring some of the Vitamin C that was lost in heating. This invention lead to the expansion of Florida’s citrus economy and the surrounding industries for transportation and warehousing of the juice, as Florida became a leading beverage supplier and concentrate supplier.
During his lifetime, Atkins filed for seven patents in total, including one for a sports drink containing orange juice, a pulp-free syrup for carbonated beverages and a process for extracting the aroma from fresh juice, then adding concentrate to enhance the flavour. Despite having many of his own successful patents, the patent for the cutback process of creating juice concentrate was given to the US Government in 1946. Atkins passed away in June 2000 at his home in Winter Haven, Florida, at 86 years of age.
Atkin’s memory lives on in the continual innovation within the juice manufacturing industry, in companies such as Gat Foods, a leading beverage supplier and concentrate supplier in the market today. To find out more about Gat Foods and their work.