Oranges are big, dumb clementines

What was the last video you watched on your phone? Was it the feat of a noble sports-pal puttering on turf to victorious ends? Was it an animal getting a pass on doing a human thing poorly because of its cuteness and ability to deceive the gatekeepers of viral content? Was it a speech, sapping your faith in humanity one mispronounced word at a time?

Or was it something tiny? Something which would normally pass through your day unnoticed turned to must-watch material, like a hamster eating a laughably small burrito or a set of tiny donuts emerging from a regular-sized oven?

Even if life in miniature was not the subject of the last video you watched, you have probably devoted time to viewing the subject before; the slow march of scientific progress, from the Enlightenment and the space race to the Large Hadron Collider and whatever Bond-villain shenanigans Elon Musk is up to lately, has been marked by continual improvements in our ability to make regular-sized objects smaller and smaller until they become dangerously cute. Food has borne the brunt of these developments, even foods which are naturally grown and not a product of kitchen witchcraft. With this innovation, however, comes the devaluing of all the things we previously held close to our hearts. To quote Douglas Adams:

“There’s always a moment when you start to fall out of love, whether it’s with a person or an idea or a cause, even if it’s one you only narrate to yourself years after the event: a tiny thing, a wrong word, a false note, which means that things can never be quite the same again.”

Am I taking ‘tiny thing’ in this quote too literally? Perhaps, but I thought of the idea for this article before I found quotes to support it and I refuse to back down now. I am not just here to describe the dawn of tiny domination in our society. I am here to confess my dissatisfaction with one fruit in particular, one which has fallen victim to a superior, citrusy counterpart.

Oranges, I have given you my love for years and relied on you when I was weak, but all things pass and I have no love left to give. Clementines have stolen my heart. The moment of change Adams describes came to me in a grocery store—walking through the produce section, noticing an odd bag of orange-colored fruits in blue mesh—and whatever connection we had began to fall apart.

Perhaps I can reach my point more quickly.

Nobody on the face of the Earth has the need for oranges anymore. They are the big doofus cousins of the clementine and have nothing to offer beyond sadness and wasted effort.

The false veneer of fruit respectability begins to wear thin with the very name of this citrus disappointment. Oranges? What dingus thought of the name for oranges? Do we call bananas “yellows?” Cranberries “reds?” Blueberries—well, I am willing to admit that there are other flawed fruit names as well. But the other problematic aspects of oranges have been well-known for centuries; they have little to no use in the English language and offer no meaningful metrics for fruit comparison. Oranges have had more than enough time to make their name friendlier to rhyme and find some point of comparison with apples, yet they have weaponized their obstinance as a marketing tool and a method of dominating other fruits. This stubborn inclination has even spilled over into the very act of eating: after hours and hours of peeling, you are greeted with nothing but seeds and disappointment.

Have you ever tried to keep an orange in your pocket? If you have, everyone around you has noticed, and they have quietly held council to determine whether or not you are beyond hope. Trying to conceal a full orange in your pocket appears not as a solid nutritional choice but as a cry for help. If you see a friend looking like they might be practicing to be the ball-boy for a minor-league baseball team, reach out to them. Guide them to a better path.

Oranges are also dangerous. If someone were to throw a clementine at my head, I would be mildly confused, but I would also be thoroughly charmed. I would assume that the clementine-chucker is a doctor, possibly even a national hero. If someone tried to throw an orange at my head, I would call 911 after recovering from my citrus concussion.

Furthermore, oranges remind me of a certain President’s wrinkly, horrible skin. I am not looking for daily reminders of that President’s continued existence. There are simply no reasonable justifications for the continued consumption of oranges on a regular basis when clementines offer so many benefits, not to mention their overwhelmingly healthy nutritional aspects.

By most accounts, the average clementine is roughly 35 calories. For most people, gaining one additional pound requires you to consume 3500 calories beyond the amount you burn on a daily basis. I am no expert on the human body, but I feel comfortable stating my opinion as fact anyway, and I am delighted to tell you that this means you can consume 100 clementines and only gain a single pound. This fact alone should persuade you to make the switch, but it would be irresponsible to forgo the other fantastic aspects of the clementine.

Clementines are sweeter than the average orange. They are seedless and easier to peel. If you already have joined the ranks of LURCH—Lawrence University’s Regiment of Clementine Hooligans—you are well aware of the joys of clementines. These little citrus buddies are also relatable, given their oily skin and propensity for getting lost in strange places. Unlike oranges, clementines can be carried in your pockets without arousing suspicion. You can probably sneak a few of those babies through airport security with no problem. In the absolute worst-case scenario, you will be caught and flight passengers will have to pass through a ten-point clementine screening every time they fly henceforth.

What more can I say to sway your opinion? Oranges are the dimwit relatives of the clementine and offer nothing good in their own right. Embrace the draw of endearing citrus and make clementines a larger part of your life. If you already eat one clementine a day, eat two. If you eat one with every meal, replace every item in the meal with a clementine. If you spend every waking moment of your day eating clementines, look to the moon and find inspiration; get in a SpaceX rocket and transform that clingy space-rock into a looming specter of citrus, lording over the night with its loving orange gaze. Failing that, maybe buy a single clementine every other week or whenever you see someone buying some at the grocery store. The power to correct the citrus market is in your hands.


Dan Meyer