I am a Disney history dweeb. There, I said it. I'm fascinated by the company's history, from Walt's biography to theme park and attraction construction, from background music to classic films (what up "Mary Poppins"). One of my favorite bits of history is this cute little guy. He is the Orange Bird, a character created in 1970 by Disney as a mascot for the Florida Citrus Commission, who was a prominently-featured character in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland. Around 1987, the Orange Bird disappeared, but he's recently resurfaced in the Sunshine Tree Terrace and various park merchandise.
From a recent Disney Parks blog post:
Those of you Disney history fans may be familiar with Orange Bird, the friendly little Disney character who was created to promote Florida citrus products at Walt Disney World Resort. Orange Bird originally greeted families at Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland, where guests could also buy citrus drinks and Orange Bird merchandise. The character disappeared from the park in the early 1980s – until last spring, when Walt Disney Imagineering and D23 partnered to return a historic Orange Bird sculpture to its original place at the Sunshine Tree Terrace.
Recently, while working with my family to clean out our basement, I stumbled upon a great deal of vintage Disney paraphernalia from the 1970s to the 1990s. My mom is a bit of a collector/hoarder/sentimental person like me, and she saved so much from her trips. I'll be sharing a lot of it on my blog in the future, but I thought I'd start out with the "The Sunshine Cookbook." This little pamphlet tells a story about different kinds of Florida citrus and Orange Bird's idea to share how great it is through recipes! Click through to see scans of the whole thing, along with the full text.
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"The Sunshine Cookbook"
In the beautiful state of Florida, the sun shines warm and bright in a clear, blue sky. The air is filled with the sweet scent of orange blossoms from the lush, green groves of citrus trees that cover the land. Florida is a special place... It's not everywhere that sweet, juicy oranges and grapefruit can grow. No wonder that it's the home of the Orange Bird, too. He's quite a fellow, that Orange Bird. Always thinking about oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit and the many different ways they can be enjoyed. Why, he's even thought up new ideas for boys and girls like you. It all started one day when Orange Bird was flying through his favorite citrus groves. He stopped for a moment to notice the many different kinds of fruits that are part of the citrus family. "I'll bet most boys and girls don't know about all these different varieties of oranges," he thought. He looked around at the Honey Tangerines, the Temple and Parson Brown Oranges, and the juicy Valencias. "They're healthful and sweet, and so good to eat," he said to himself. "I wish I could tell all my young friends how to use oranges to make drinks and frozen desserts and other goodies." Even more important, Orange Bird remembered that oranges are packed with natural C and B vitamins and with potassium and other minerals that keep you strong and healthy. Again, he thought how wonderful it would be if everyone knew that oranges were healthy fruits that give you energy. As thoughts of oranges were filling his head, Orange Bird came upon a grove of grapefruit. There were Pink Grapefruit and Florida Marsh Grapefruit, and again he though, "There are so many ways to use grapefruit. I must let boys and girls know about the dips and salads and desserts that taste so good made with grapefruit." There is so much juice in Florida oranges and grapefruit. "What a good idea that some of it is concentrated and packed in cans," Orange Bird said to himself. "That way, even if the fresh fruit is out of season, everyone can still enjoy the fresh flavor of real orange and grapefruit juices." All you have to do is add water back to the concentrate and presto, it's natural juice again. Of course, chilled juice, in bottles and cartons, is a great convenience, too. With so many ideas whirling around in his head, the Orange Bird didn't know which way to turn. "Should I open a Cooking School?" he asked himself. "I'm so proud of Florida's fine fruit and all the good food you can make with it. I's like to teach everyone to make good things to eat with oranges and grapefruit," he thought. "Everyone will be much happier if they learn how easy and how good citrus foods are." But what about the people who couldn't come to Florida to go to the Cooking School? How could they learn Orange Bird's recipes? He thought and he thought. "Maybe a school isn't the answer. Maybe I should write a recipe book and send it to everyone. That way, more people can learn about citrus foods. I'll do it!" he decided. No sooner had the idea come to him than the Orange Bird was already gathering golden citrus to create his own personal recipes. He squeezed the juicy oranges...he added water to the cans of pure orange concentrate...he peeled and sectioned the succulent grapefruit...he swooned with every sniff of the purse, sweet citrus scent that was all around him. He stirred and mixed and sliced...and, finally, the Orange Bird had done it. He had produced his very own Sunshine Cookbook designed especially for young cooks. And what a selection of recipes he had! There was something for everyone...sandwiches, cookies, milk shakes and punches...frozen desserts, salads, dips and fresh fruit snacks. And every one of them so easy to make. These days, when the Orange Bird is out in the citrus groves, he still thinks of all the different ways that oranges and grapefruit can be made into fabulous foods. But he's happier, because now everyone can enjoy all of the Florida fruit just as much as he does.