Dr. Edwin L. Moore (1916-2009)
Florida Citrus Commission
Louis G. MacDowell
Cederic “C.D.” Atkins
Lake Alfred Citrus Research & Education Center
Vacuum Foods (Minute Maid)
Dr. Edwin Moore was drawn to laboratory work because he had a tendency to stutter and hated to be put in the spotlight. His role in the development of concentrate, however, placed him in a different type of spotlight, as he came to be regarded as one of the most important citrus researchers of all time.
Moore was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1916. As a child, he enjoyed experimenting and once attempted to grow a Duncan grapefruit tree in his basement. The tree grew to about two feet tall before it expired in the cold dark basement, but Moore was not discouraged. He maintained an interest in food technology, which was nurtured by his employment at a grocery store as a youth. He attended Massachusetts State College, earning a bachelor, masters, and finally a doctorate in food technology in 1942.
After graduation Moore joined the Florida Citrus Commission. Moore soon joined a research team that included Dr. Louis G. MacDowell and Cedric “C.D.” Atkins who were tasked with devising a viable form of orange juice concentrate which could be used to deliver vitamin C to the battlefields of Europe to fight scurvy. Current forms of concentrate were undesirable in that they did not retain the fresh orange taste. The trio was given $8,000 and told to see what they could come up with. Their project was housed in an old U.S.D.A lab in Winter Haven, with equipment no more sophisticated than many high school chemistry labs of the day.
It took three years to perfect, but the team eventually devised a process by which the water was evaporated from the juice at 80 degrees, and then fresh orange juice was returned to the mixture to enhance the taste. They developed a packing method for the new mixture, which was tested on members of the industry and guests of the 1946 Orange Festival to glowing results. Tin was chosen as packaging because it retained the optimum amount of flavor. Dr.Moore then moved to the Citrus Research Center in Lake Alfred in order to perfect commercial evaporation methods and address new problems that arose once the mixture began being shipped. He also studied the chemical characteristics of the new juice. Moore’s work helped to establish minimum quality standards for FCOJ.
A patent was awarded in 1948. It was immediately claimed by the U.S.D.A, owing to the use of its facilities. This denied the three researchers an extremely significant amount of financial gain, but they were awarded 6 months of paid vacation time, with no more than six weeks to be taken in a single year and none of the researchers ever complained.
A company known as Vacuum Foods transformed itself into Minute Maid to exploit the new product, and concentrate brought about a dramatic resurgence in the Florida citrus industry. This led to concentrate being labeled “The Cinderella Product” by Florida Southern College professor Thomas Mack. Owing to concentrate, orange juice became the most widely consumed juice in the world, selling over 200 million gallons of juice by 1979-1980. Florida citrus groves eventually expanded to include an area larger than Rhode Island. Concentrate provided a means of supplying orange juice year-round, and also helped establish the modern frozen food industry.
As groundbreaking as concentrate was, Dr. Moore enjoyed a lengthy career that spanned over fifty years after the original research trio had patented their work. He participated in countless studies at the research center in Lake Alfred. He is considered the world’s leading expert in the vitamin and nutrient content of citrus. He has also worked extensively to develop more energy-efficient equipment, in addition to contributions to pollution control, waste disposal, and the use of citrus by-products. Late in his life, he worked to improve grapefruit quality and taste. Moore is said to have lived most of his life in a lab as his research career lasted well into his eighties. Only in 2001 did the citrus legend retire. Even in his old age, he was said to never miss a citrus commission meeting.
Moore’s body of work earned him a flurry of accolades. Along with Dr. MacDowell and C.D. Atkins, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S.D.A and was named one of the 50 most important Floridians of the century by the Lakeland Ledger. He also received the Distinguished Merit Award from the National Wholesale Frozen Food Distributor Association. The research trio was inducted to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1983.