Historically, Polk has been the epicenter for the citrus industry, shipping hundreds of thousands of crates annually. To honor this citrus tradition, the Citrus Label Tour was created. This driving tour, which is a partnership between the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, Visit Central Florida and the Polk County History Center, is a series of historic crate label signs that enhance Polk’s Heritage Trail. A map of the Heritage Trail and the Citrus Label Tour is available from the Polk County History Center to enhance the driving experience at www.polk-county.net/history-center/history-and-heritage-trail
Colorful labels, originally affixed to the ends of the shipping crates between the years 1900-1960, served as a way to brand and make the product stand out in the northern markets. By featuring native flora and fauna, beautiful girls, historic sites, sportsman activities and artistic designs, the labels also served as Florida’s first advertising billboards. Imagine the visual appeal of being in a blustery winter region and seeing scenes of blues skies and sunshine on these brightly colored labels.
Each of these labels tell a story about the citrus industry. The artistry of the labels is attractive, but there is utility in their beauty that would help the buyer know more about the product packed in the wooden crate. A blue background signified No. 1 quality fruit, while a red background meant No. 2.
The Polk-a-Dot label sign is located outside of the Polk County History Center. Inside the History Center, visitors can view an exhibit of many more labels relevant to Polk’s history in the citrus industry. Nearly 50 citrus label signs can be found in 23 locations along the driving tour. Pick up the tour map at the History Center or online at www.polkhistorycenter.org or at polkarts.org.
An overview of the Citrus Label Tour can be viewed on the Heritage Trails video series produced by PGTV on YouTube. Please join us on this journey of discovery about our great citrus heritage.