John M. Fox (1912-2003)
Food Dehydration Equipment
Florida Foods, Inc.
Minute Maid Corporation
United Fruit Company
John M. Fox was born in Esher, England, on December 26, 1912. He immigrated to the United States with his parents to Atlantic City, New Jersey, in two years later. Fox graduated from Colgate University in 1934 and began a business career with International Business Machines (I.B.M.). In 1943 he accepted the position of Assistant to the President in the National Research Company of Boston and was promoted to vice president the following year. Under Fox’s leadership, the National Research Company of Boston developed a line of food dehydration equipment. The successful use of the food dehydration equipment to dehydrate penicillin and food for the United States’ military eventually brought Fox into the Florida Citrus Industry.
In support of domestic war efforts during World War Two, as well as Fox’s intent to land supply contracts for powdered orange juice with the armed forces, he moved his family to Plymouth, Florida, in 1945. Fox became the founder and president of Florida Foods, Inc., which formally changed its name to the Minute Maid Corporation in 1947. Although the powdered orange juice was deemed to be bitter, and the need for powdered juice concentrates ended after Japan’s formal surrender, a concentrated frozen product with improved flavor was developed by Dr. L.S. McDowell in the mid-1940s. John Fox guided his company’s transformation from powered juice production to the production of frozen orange juice concentrate. Fox’s company produced and marketed the first commercial pack of frozen orange juice concentrate in April of 1946. It was Fox’s idea to use singer Bing Crosby as the company’s first spokesman. Under Fox’s leadership and marketing genius, first-year sales totaled $374,501, and by 1955 sales reached $106.5 million, making the Minute Maid Corporation one of the largest juice concentrate companies in the world. Fox’s successful marketing of FCOJ remains legendary and he stayed on as president of Minute Maid until the company was sold to Coca-Cola in 1960.
From 1960 to 1970, John Fox was the president and chairman of the United Fruit Company, where he developed new ideas for shipping and branding the company’s products. Fox returned to Boston, Massachusetts in 1970 to accept the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of H.P. Hood, Inc., where he retired in 1978. After retiring, John M. Fox returned to Winter Park, Florida where passed away January 9, 2003. John M. Fox was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame in 1975.