Giant oranges — whimsical, orange-shaped hamburger stands offering orange freezes — once dotted American roads. The last one along Highway 99 stood in odd isolation in Madera County.

Mammoth Orange closed around 2008.

Now the Mammoth Orange stand has been purchased by the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County. The museum houses an abundance of mammoth and other Pleistocene-era fossils unearthed nearby.

Mammoth fossils, Mammoth Orange, get it?

“It’s fun,” museum Director Michele Pecina said. “We just thought it would be a good draw to the public to have both pieces together.”

The Stockton angle involves Mark Lewis, Stockton city manager from 2001-06. After Stockton, Lewis went to Chowchilla. A town of 20,000 or so, Chowchilla is a stone’s throw up 99 from both the giant orange and the archeological dig where all the fossils were found.

Chowchilla lacks the wherewithal for the sort of grand capital projects Lewis liked, such as Stockton’s arena or ballpark. But hey, there sat the vacant giant orange.

“I thought at the time it was the last giant orange,” wrote Lewis, whom I found in Alaska. “But now I don’t think it is. I was driving through Dixon on my way to SF (on 80) and along the road in front of a closed restaurant was a Giant Orange. So there you go.”

Chowchilla’s redevelopment agency bought the giant orange. The idea was to incorporate it into a museum. It never happened. The giant orange languished in the city corp yard.

The museum snapped it up for a grand total of $2,050.

The museum will first restore the orange, appoint it with memorabilia preserved by the orange’s last operator, and put it on display as a beloved artifact, said Pecina.

Mammoth Orange will then be reopened for business, a cool and kitschy remnant of 20th-century American car culture saved from oblivion by a Stockton guy.

 

Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or michaelf@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/fitzgeraldblog and on Twitter @Stocktonopolis.