California Cuties from Tree to McDonalds

This post was most recently updated on March 23rd, 2015

Disclaimer:  I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own.  All links and locations are correct at this time. Thanks to the Great Bay Area McDonald’s Cooperative and Bloggin’ Mamas for the opportunity.

I love the variety of fruits and vegetables that we have available in California and I love knowing about where my food comes from. So learning about Cuties and how they are grown, harvested and packaged really excited me.  I hope that you will enjoy learning about this too.

Click to Tweet: Love those sweet tasty Cuties? Read my post California Cuties from Tree to Store.

Who Doesn't Love A Cutie
Who Doesn’t Love A Cutie?

One of the blessings on living in California, particularly Northern California is fresh food. My recent visit to Sun Pacific’s Cutie grove and processing facility in Bakersfield brought back a lot of great memories of being a child visiting family in Tulare.  At the time it seemed as if everyone grew fruit in their yard and always conveniently next to a fence so as we played outside we also helped ourselves to whatever was growing near by.

Where do Cuties Come From?

Sun Pacific is the owner of the ‘Cutie’ brand name for these mandarines that are found at stores across the US and now offered with Happy Meals in all 14,000 McDonald’s US restaurants.  The fruit groves and the processing facility are located in Bakersfield, CA.  At the time of my visit the processing plant was running 20 hours per day to keep up with the demand for this delicious snack.

What Makes Cuties Taste So Great?

  • Sun Pacific is passionate about their product. During the sorting, cleaning and packing process the fruit is checked several times for peelability, sweetness, seeds, size, and looks. I was amazed at the amount of work and effort the staff at Sun Pacific puts into selecting the fruits chosen to be labeled ‘Cutie’.
  • Fruit is harvested from the trees several times during the season so that only the ripe fruit is taken.
  • Each Cutie is harvested by hand.  The fruit is cut (not pulled!) from the branch in order to insure that it is not bruised or torn at the junction where the fruit is attached to the tree. Each worker picks between 1500 and 1800 pounds per day.  That’s a lot of cuteness.
  • Fruit is is graded on how easy it is to peel, sweetness and seeds. Two Cuties contain 13 grams of sugar, 290% of the daily recommendation of vitamin C, 14% of the daily recommendation of fiber with only 5 grams of fat.
  • Cuties don’t like bees. Cutie trees are covered with nets because when bees pollinate a Cutie tree, the fruit will contain seeds.
  • Fruit is constantly tested for sweetness and seeds before (and after) is it shipped to local stores and McDonald’s USA restaurants.  Sun Pacific also pulls fruit and stores it for 20 days after processing so that the fruit can be tested again and reviewed for their standards.

 

Sun Pacific Cuties on Conveyor Belt
Cuties on a Roll At Sun Pacific

How Fresh are the Cuties Found at Local McDonald’s US Restaurant?

I’ve had fresher fruit (yea for Dr. Seuss) but as you can see I had to pick it myself.  Sun Pacific ships 50,000 10 lb boxes to McDonald’s US restaurants each week.  That is 500,000 pounds of fruit.  At most it is 2 weeks from the time the fruit is picked from the tree until it makes it to your local restaurant. Cuties in California are the same Cuties your family eats when you are traveling or visiting family whether it be California or Kansas, Oklahoma or Ohio.

 

Picking Cuties (clementine oranges) at Sun Pacific groves.
Picking Cuties (clementine oranges) at Sun Pacific groves.

 

Where Else Can I Find Cuties

Everywhere!  Cuties can be found at most major grocery stores in 2, 3, or 5 lb bags.  Cuties are also coming to your local convenience store in a new 3 Cutie pack, just perfect for lunch boxes and snack bags.

Why Do I love Cuties?

Why are Cuties and other fresh fruit important to me: busy household, busy teens so being able to grab and go is a must.   I love fruit in my house for when someone doesn’t like a veggie or main dish. No problem, no drama, grab a piece of fruit.  I also love the fact that the peel is a natural barrier against pesticides. And Cuties seem to available almost all year round. Sun Pacific also made me feel good about choosing Cuties because they use beneficial insects whenever possible and only pesticides when necessary.

Thanks for reading my post.  I’ve included some links for more information.
Sun Pacific Corporate Site
Recipes using Cuties – How about Clementine Sorbet or Clementine Apricot Glazed Chicken
Where to Buy Cutie Juice and Smoothies – Yes Cutie juice is delicious
Nutrition Information for Cuties (courtesy of Sun Pacific)

Acknowledgements & Thanks

I recently took a Field to Restaurant tour to learn about the clementine oranges we know as ‘Cuties’.  I’d like to thank the Greater Bay Area McDonald’s Cooperative and Bloggin’ Mamas for the opportunity to visit Sun Pacific.  Al Bates President of Sun Pacific Shippers and Farming, Jose Martina and the staff at Sun Pacific for their time and cooperation.

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