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Picture of Mammoth Orange Food Stand.
Do you remember the Mammoth Orange on Highway 99 at Fairmead? Tell us about it!

The History Mystery #86: Mammoth Orange

By Dan Carrion, E Clampus Vitus Historian

One of the Valley’s most famous landmarks was located on Highway 99 at Fairmead. The “Mammoth Orange,” and its sister across the highway the “Whoa Boy Giant Orange,” served voyagers on Highway 99 for over 50 years. The Whoa Boy was built in 1941 on the west side of Highway 99 near the intersection with Road 19. It lasted at that location until the 1980s, when it fell into disrepair, burned, and was finally torn down in 1999. 

The Mammoth Orange was originally located in Chowchilla, built there around 1947. When the new Highway 99 was built bypassing Chowchilla, the name was changed to Mammoth Orange, and it was moved to its most famous location, near Avenue 22 ½ and Highway 99. It was on a slice of property owned by the railroad on the east side of the highway. It lasted on that site until freeway expansion forced its removal around 2007.

It is ironic that underneath the site at Avenue 22 ½, there probably are remains of mammoths, making its name “Mammoth Orange” even more fitting. Fortunately, the orange is now located at the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County, just a stone’s throw from where it was previously located, where it will soon become a concession stand.

There were many “Giant Oranges” located all over California, with at least 16 of them on Highway 99 alone. Some used the words Giant Orange in their names, and some didn’t. But the Mammoth Orange in Fairmead was the last one in operation on Highway 99.  Do you have memories of one or more of these orange buildings? If so, where were they located and what was the name on them? 

At the Fossil Discovery Center, members from E Clampus Vitus will be placing a monument commemorating the history of the Mammoth Orange, but we would like more information. Where was it actually located in Chowchilla? Obviously, it was near the highway, but where? Rumor has it that it was originally painted as a lemon juice stand. We would like to know if that is true. Are there any photographs of the orange in Chowchilla still in existence? Any help would be thoroughly appreciated.

5 comments

  1. There have been 29 comments on SNO’s Facebook page They are copied below:

    Karen Jackson Love this place stopped many times
    7h

    Karen Gearhart Best cheeseburger and fries I’ve ever had. An orange shake!
    7h

    Steven King
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    2
    7h

    Steven King Rotary clubs Chowchilla Madera are rebuilding the orange.
    Image may contain: sky and outdoor
    8
    7h

    Esther Hibpshman Stopped there maqny times. Loved it
    1
    7h

    Les Beck Ate ther just before it shut down. Worked at the one in Tracy; summer of ‘63
    7h
    Bill Ritchey If my memory serves me correctly, the Chowchilla location was located at Southbound Hwy. 99 at the Ave. 24 1/2 exit…
    2
    6h

    Renee Armstrong I miss that place!
    6h

    Judy DeMasters I so remember, it was a treat if we got to stop.
    1
    6h
    5 Replies

    Mary Wilson Sholler Mary here from the California History Room at the Madera Library. I’m going to attach 5 images that will hopefully assist the Clampers in their preservation efforts!

    1
    4h
    Images did not reproduce – see them on comments for History Mystery #86 On SNO’s Facebook page

    Mary Wilson Sholler PC: California History Room, Madera County Library 📚
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    1
    4h

    Bernard Spielman http://couverturedalbum.blogspot.com/…/bobby-volare-big…
    Bobby Volare – Big Orange
    COUVERTUREDALBUM.BLOGSPOT.COM

    Bobby Volare – Big Orange
    4h

    Kate McDonald Hammers I ate at the last one. One time only to my knowledge. Dang good food. My Dad remembers them fondly. They stopped at each one for refills on ice and orange drink. That was their AC in the car back in 50s and 60s.
    3h

    Sandy Wilson Myers Every time we drove up 99 on a trip we begged mom and dad to stop there
    1
    3h

    Sierra Martin Glad I got to eat here before they closed 🧡
    3h

    Karin van der Lee I remember that place when I was a kid. I never got to stop there. But, it was so much fun to see it. I was a kid about 50 years ago.
    2h

    Cari Lewis Hager We were lucky enough to eat there in 2007 before they removed it. Great burger, fires and a shake.
    2h

    Kimberly Gould I Loved that place My Aunt Corolyn worked there ! Was fortunate to eat there often as a kid ,,
    2h

    Diane Wionowsky Oh my goodness. I certainly do remember this!!! Brings back such fun memories. Thanks for the trip down ‘memory lane’
    1h

    Chepane Smith Ate there as a little boy they had the big 🍟

  2. I drove past this at least a hundred times and always wanted to stop. Fun to see a write up on the history of it.

  3. Traveled 99 back and forth to LA from the Bay for years, 10 trips a month…….seen plenty of Giant Orange concessions both on and off the highway keeping in mind prior to the highway being completed 99 went right through the middle of many towns….lots of changes down that way hardly recognizable as compared to years back….

  4. My Gramma Eva was a fry cook at this one and she used to keep a bottle of a “little something” close by to add to her soda to help the time pass quickly. The highway patrol would stop in the back on their breaks and she’d share it with them, and they’d bring her more.

    When I became a teacher in Fairmead, I ate there once a week with a fellow teacher and we’d split one of their giant hamburgers and fries. It was always a treat..

  5. There were a total of 50 comments this month. Thanks to all who follow the History Mystery and especially to those who made comments. Below are comments on Facebook made after the previous post.

    Chepane Smith Ate there as a little boy they had the big 🍟

    Dina Wigt We always used to go there, YUMMO. xxx

    Carolie C. Jensen There is one in Madera.

    Ron Hushaw Always a favorite!

    Gail Dobriko I remember seeing those as we went to our grandparents in Fresno, way back when.

    Kathy Landreth Ate there once..Great Food

    Georgia Verstoppen Thanks always wondered about this

    Lori Lynne Smith Loved that place,ate there often when was a kid going on vacations

    Richard McQuone Miss it. Used to stop on my way to Sacramento and Modesto

    Stephanie Tesnow Jennifer Putman

    Jennifer Putman Stephanie Tesnow a lot of laughs working there!

    Tom Wheeler I bought a lot of Hamburgers there🤠👍

    Kathryn Schlitz Oh my I remember this so well.. Went there all of the time

    Richard Dean Waller Sr. Great place, I remember when it was removed so sad. Lived on Ave 23 1/2 Chowchilla.

    Diana Gioiosa Polly Yummy hamburgers.

    Dan Carrion Thank you so much for everyone’s comments and information. Keep October 10, 2020 in mind, as that is the scheduled date of the Grand Reopening of the Mammoth Orange at the Fossil Discovery Center. E Clampus Vitus will have our monument ready for that date.

    Liz Provost Never had the privilege to eat there

    Charlene Fulton Some of our family’s best memories is stopping by the Mammoth Orange in our way back from Fresno.

    Mark Perkins I grew up in Tulare. Born in 1950. I remember them, but not sure which ones. Our family had reason to go both north and south on Hwy. 99, and I’ve read that there were spherical orange stands both east, and south of town, and maybe north too. The north and south ones would have been along Hwy. 99. The other would have been on the Tulare-Lindsay Highway I think.

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