Founder of Minute Maid dies at 90

Published: Monday, January 20, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 11:52 p.m.
WINTER PARK - John M. Fox, a founder of Minute Maid Corp., which developed the first commercial batch of frozen orange juice concentrate in the late 1940s and quickly grew into a multimillion-dollar business, had died.
Fox died Jan. 9 in his hometown of Winter Park. He was 90.
In 1946, Fox and four other businessmen started a small company called Florida Foods Inc., which produced orange juice concentrate using a vacuum technique he had seen used in Boston during World War II to dehydrate penicillin and food for the military.
The original plan was to turn orange juice into a soluble powder, but it produced an unpleasant taste. Instead, they reduced fresh juice into concentrate, which was more palatable when mixed with water.
The company changed its name in 1947 to Minute Maid Corp., and Fox went door to door in his neighborhood of Hingham, Mass., giving out free samples. He also hired singer Bing Crosby as the company's first spokesman.
First-year sales totaled $374,501, but by 1955, Minute Maid sales reached $106.5 million. The company went public the next year, and built a headquarters in Orlando.
Coca-Cola bought Minute Maid in 1960, moving the company's headquarters were moved to Houston.
Fox, an immigrant from Britain who earned a degree from Colgate University in upstate New York, left Minute Maid and moved to Boston to become chairman and chief executive officer of United Fruit Co. from 1960 to 1979.
He is survived by his wife, Floy; a daughter, Susan Castellini of Cincinnati; two sons, son, Byron of Mill Valley, Calif., and Stephen of Peterborough, N.H.; a sister, Nancy Burgess of Madison, Conn.; and 20 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

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