Scheu Products Company Smudge Pot

Fieldhands filled this smudge pot, built by the Scheu Products Company, with fuel and lit it aflame to keep Florida citrus groves warm during freezes. This pot belched tremendous amounts of smoke, which helped reduce heat loss during cold snaps.

Tampa Bay History Center Collection

Spanish explorers first brought orange seeds to Florida in the 1500s. Commercial cultivation of oranges, however, did not boom until three centuries later. Railroads opened formerly isolated areas of the peninsula to dense orange groves and, after World War II, frozen concentrated juice was born. In 1960, industry observers estimated there were 34.4 million commercial citrus trees in Florida.

Three Fast Florida Facts

  1. Before the twentieth century, citrus products were a novelty that parents sometimes shoved into Christmas stockings.
  2. Frozen-concentrated Minute Maid orange juice was first sold in stores in 1946.
  3. Florida’s citrus industry shrank in the early 2000s due to disease, development, and changing consumer tastes; the 2022-2023 harvest was the smallest since the 1930s.