Ocean Spray Cranberry: An American Classic

I have moved on to NYC but will be bringing you an exciting exclusive from my visit to Boston shortly. In the meantime I hope you enjoy my tour of Ocean Spray.

Welcome back. I am currently in Boston covering Whitey Bulger’s sentencing which I’ll get to in a bit but on the way I ran into another interesting story. The headquarters of Ocean Spray Cranberry is just outside of Boston and every autumn the bogs near their building are flooded with 8 inches of water and the next day the cranberries are harvested from the surface of the water.

I’m sure you’ve seen the TV commercial with the two Ocean Spray workers standing knee deep in cranberries. Well that’s where I was yesterday. So what is a bog you may ask. I learned from the company’s website that it is a soft marshy area with highly acidic peat soil. The cranberries grow on long runner vines and when the bog is flooded they float to the surface because they have small pockets of air in them. The growers use a tool called a water reel or eggbeater to loosen the berries from the vines. Then the berries are  corralled together and loaded into trucks which take them to factories where they are cleaned and packaged for grocery stores. This is called “wet harvesting.”

“Dry harvesting” is different because the growers use a mechanical picker that looks like a lawnmower to loosen the berries. The picker has metal teeth that comb the berries off the vines and deposits them in burlap sacks. This whole process from growing to harvest was quite interesting and totally new to me and after further research I found that the commercial cranberry business itself is not that old. Ocean Spray was founded in 1930 by three men who loved cranberries and wanted to sell them across the country. Now 83 years later there are over 700 growers all over North America providing cranberries to the company. But it’s not just about cranberries anymore. Beginning in 1963 with the introduction of Cran-Apple juice the company began branching out to include red grapefruit juices and dried cranberries for breakfast bars, cereals and snacks. The plant I visited was a lot of fun and they welcome visitors so if you’re in the area I recommend a visit and a healthy fresh made drink.

With that visit behind me, as you read today’s paper I’m sitting in the Boston federal courthouse just feet from James Whitey Bulger. I am sitting next to Steve Davis who Whitey basically referred to as a dead man in a letter sent from federal lock-up a couple of weeks ago. I caught up with Steve yesterday and he does not seem to be worried even though his brother Ronnie Davis was stabbed to death in 1981 and his sister Debbie was strangled by the gang and put in an unmarked grave where she was later discovered. Steve’s other sister Michelle also ran into trouble with the Winter Hill gang that Whitey ran when she was raped as a teenager by confessed multi murderer Stephen “the Rifleman” Flemmi.  Michelle later committed suicide. Flemmi and John Martorano were convicted of killing Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler who was shot in 1981.

Although the judge has ruled that a representative of each of the eleven murder victim’s families will have an opportunity to speak directly to Whitey today and tomorrow, Steve will not be one of them. However I anticipate that he will have his say one way or another. As for me, I have gone through official channels and have asked Whitey’s lawyer personally for the opportunity to interview Whitey but I won’t know what will happen until later today. Stay tuned for that!

I am also hoping to speak with John Martorano who after confessing to twenty murders in a plea deal and spending fourteen years in prison is a now a free man living in Boston .Sparks flew when Martorano testified against Whitey during the trial and I anticipate that he will be at the sentencing to see his old friend off.

Steve Davis, Whitey Bulger, John Martorano and more, then next week it’s on to New York City. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..









One thought on “Ocean Spray Cranberry: An American Classic

  1. I drink my Ocean Spray cranberry with lime and a shot of tonic water… Schweppes, Every day. Keeps my kidneys in good shape AND, my legs aren’t jumpy due to the quinine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *