Children and adults from around the world flock to Disney parks every day. Most of the time, the weather in the American parks tends to be on the warmer side, which often produces the desire for a refreshing treat.
Both resorts are home to an amazing confection known as the Dole Whip. However only in Walt Disney World can you satisfy your craving for a Citrus Swirl. For the purposes of today’s debate, Disneyland will lay claim to the Dole Whip, as Keith and Jeff attempt to convince you which treat is superior!
(As usual, Keith is representing Disneyland, while Jeff represents Walt Disney World)
Topic 21: Dole Whip vs. Citrus Swirl
Jeff: If there is something that people love most, it’s nostalgia. And when nostalgia comes into play, all bets are off. Regardless of how it may have been, people remember things a certain way, and that’s that. Good, bad, or indifferent, nostalgia always wins. But there are sometimes that, even in the most unlikely of circumstances, the nostalgia turns out to be true. And there is no better example of this than the return of the Citrus Swirl at Walt Disney World.
Keith: Even the greatest creative genius of all time loved nostalgia.
“I love the nostalgic myself. I hope we never lose some of the things of the past.” ~ Walt Disney
The scrumdiddliumcious Dole Whip has had no such “return”, because it is so good, Disney would never dare do away with it in the first place. Dole Whips debuted in Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom back in 1976, when Dole began sponsoring both the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Tiki Juice bar. The little thatched-roof snack shack is also home to delicious pineapple juice and spears, but the non-dairy pineapple-flavored soft serve has been a guest favorite since day one.
Some adventurous folks even add a little pineapple juice to their Whips and call ‘em Dole Whip Floats! Don’t try to wrap your brain around that, Jeff. It’s science.
Jeff: Ours went away, but for a good reason. Sort of. Allow me to explain a bit…
You see, back when Walt Disney World opened in 1971, the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland was a huge hit. It was sponsored by the Florida Citrus Growers (or the FCG, as the cool kids call it). Their mascot was the one and only Orange Bird, a much beloved mascot that was seen both inside the Park AND outside during promotional appearances. The lovely little bird even had its own song and storybook, narrated by Anita Bryant. the song will stick in your head forever if you listen to it, so be sure to give it a whirl.
Anyway, with all this, the greatest treat to be found at the Sunshine Tree Terrace was the Citrus Swirl. Sure, you could get an old fashioned glass of Orange Juice to quench your thirst, but that couldn’t be enough. No, you needed a combination of vanilla soft serve and “orange slush” (in other words, frozen orange juice), which was also in float form. This delicious concoction was known as the Citrus Swirl.
Named after famed explorer Julius Swirl, who discovered the orange in 1843, the citrus swirl was enjoyed by guests for years until it went away when the FCG did not renew their sponsorship with Disney. It was forever lost to time (and space), until it was brought back for the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World.
Keith: The pineapple received its English name thanks to its resemblance to a pine cone. It is actually native to South America, and Christopher Columbus brought it back to Europe with him as a treasure from the New World. Centuries later, sailors brought the pineapple home to New England, and they placed the fruit on their porch as an indication that they were home and available to receive guests.
While we know the Hawaiian name for the exotic treat (halakahiki, which actually translates to “foreign fruit”), no one is certain as to when it made its first appearance in the tropical paradise. In the early 1800s, an adviser to King Kamehameha (recognize that name, Disneyland fans?) was able to successfully cultivate the fruit. Captain John Kidwell is the man credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry, but James Drummond Dole is the man who made the fruit a household staple.
I must admit my American History is a little rusty, and I’m not entirely up to speed on this “Julius Swirl” fellow. However I am confident that if Swirl and Dole ever came face to face, Dole would take off his white glove, slap Swirl across the face with it, and sashay back to his cannery as Swirl gently sobbed.
Jeff: You do not know of Julius Swirl? How dare you, sir. Go read a book. A lot of people mistake the phrase as “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” but in actuality, it is really “Dr. Swirl, there you are!” Very common mistake. Happens all the time.
Regardless, the citrus swirl was accidentally discovered one day when Queen Elizabeth II was being served her soft serve vanilla ice cream. One of the servants mistakenly dropped an orange slice into it, and fearing the wrath of the Queen, who wanted her ice cream pure as the driven snow, mashed up the orange slice into a type of slush, and tried to conceal it with more ice cream. When the Queen was served this dish, she was onto the deception right away. She took one bite, said “Mmmmm…orange-y!” and declared the treat as Vanilla Soft Serve and Orange-y Mush. Dessert makers later renamed it to the now common name of the citrus swirl.
And how did the citrus swirl make it to Walt Disney World you may ask? Well, I’ll get to that in a second.
Keith: James Drummond Dole took his Harvard degrees in both business and agriculture to Hawaii in 1899. A year after his arrival he purchased a 61-acre tract of land in Wahiawa, on the island of Oahu. The high-tech process of canning food had recently been perfected, and in 1901, Dole opened the first pineapple cannery on his newly acquired land. Years later, the cannery was relocated to Honolulu for its proximity to the labor pool and shipping ports. The Honolulu cannery, at one time the largest in the world, remained in operation until 1991.
While the pineapple was considered an appealing fruit, many Westerners were unsure how to utilize it. Dole teamed up with other pineapple distributors in Hawaii in order to create national interest in the exotic treat. The plan worked, and thanks to nationally distributed advertising campaigns, canned pineapple soon found itself in American cupboards everywhere.
The boom of the pineapple meant Dole needed more land for harvesting. In 1922 he purchased the Hawaiian Island of Lana`i, and soon turned it into the largest pineapple plantation in the world. For close to 70 years, Lana`i was responsible for more than 75% of the world’s pineapple. The popularity of the pineapple increased over the years, and by the 1940s a total of eight pineapple companies were in operation. Dole’s was by far the largest, employing 3,000 permanent employees, 4,000 seasonal employees, and churning out over 200,000 tons of pineapple a year.
I took your advice, Jeff, and read a book. It turns out that Dole and Swirl met on several occasions, often engaging in dignified competition such as polo, croquet, or spirited bouts of name-calling. Dole was almost always the victor, which aids in reiterating just how superior the Dole Whip is to the Citrus Swirl.
Jeff: I’m pretty sure you made that statistic up. In fact, I ask…nay, demand, to see said book. I’m pretty sure it’s all lies. LIES.
Speaking of lies, just how did the Citrus Swirl make it to Walt Disney World? Well, you see, while Walt was planning for EPCOT (the city, not the theme park), he stumbled upon a book filled with ancient recipes, passed down from generation to generation. Within the pages of this book was the secret dessert that Queen Elizabeth II discovered. Walt took the book home one day to make it for himself. He loved it so much that he declared the would serve this treat to people who visited his theme parks, and even then, only to those who visited the East Coast park.
The dessert was to be the official dessert of EPCOT (the city, not the theme park), and so, he decided to test out people’s reactions to it by having it served in the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, Walt passed before he could see the delight people experienced in having the citrus swirl. As mentioned, when the FCG left the Magic Kingdom, they took the recipe with them. Fortunately, years later, it was found buried in a box in a closet in the Carousel of Progress, which is why we can enjoy them again today.
Keith: “Marty called, wants citrus.”
While this has been a fun duel, I just hope that you good folks enjoyed learning a little history behind the amazingly delicious dessert that ended up in the Disney parks. For the record, I absolutely love the Citrus Swirl. Orange is actually my favorite fruit. However as Jeff alluded to in his opening statement, sometimes nostalgia just flat-out trumps reality. For me Dole Whips will always be synonymous with growing up Disney, and no amount of orange-flavored anything can replace that.
For those who didn’t know, if you’re the first one in line at the Tiki Juice bar in the morning, and you purchase a Dole Whip, you are entitled to a special “First Dole Whip of the Day” button. If they don’t automatically hand it to you, be sure to ask for one!
Pineapples truly are the king of all fruit. Dole plants and harvests each one by hand, and the first crop planted can take up to twenty months to be ready for harvest. A lot of work, time, and skill go into cultivating these little spiked beauties. And as the Dole Company likes to say, “The wait is worth it.”
James Drummond Dole: 1, Julius Swirl: 0.
What do you guys think? Which refreshing treat is “the one soft-serve to rule them all?” Sound off in the comments below!
Dueling Disney is written by Keith Gluck and Jeff Heimbuch