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The Secret to Peter Arnell’s Insanity? He Eats 50 Oranges a Day

Peter Arnell is the man behind the electric vehicle Peapod (nice name!) as well as several high-profile corporate redesigns including one for Pepsi that necessitated a seemingly psychotic 27-page brief.

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Peter Arnell is the man behind the electric vehicle Peapod (nice name!) as well as several high-profile corporate redesigns including one for Pepsi that necessitated a seemingly psychotic 27-page brief. But he’s probably best known for that infamous Tropicana “recall” where the company snatched back its new branding after consumers complained it didn’t say “juice.” (Or “Tropicana.” Or “good.” Or “buy me.”)

So it was all too ironic to see Arnell with Matt Lauer on the Today Show talking about his love for…oranges?

The man eats as many oranges as you see before him in a single day, but it’s not due to a vitamin C deficiency. Arnell, who once weighed 407 pounds, is now a wiry 145, and his personal transformation was largely thanks to consuming mass quantities of the citrus. We first learned about the orange fetish in a Newsweek story where Arnell just happened to be “approached” on the street by people telling him how awesome the Tropicana redesign was.

The weight loss, the redesigns, the oranges, are all well-documented in his new book Shift: How to Reinvent Your Business, Your Career and Your Personal Brand. His orange obsession is so central to his character that it takes up the entire first chapter of his book:

I were to reach out right now to shake your hand, you would probably be surprised to see the color of my hands. People always stare at the deep orange glow my hands give off. It’s a loud, warm orange, not a color that anyone expects to see on someone’s hands. But since I look fit and trim and healthy, people usually just wonder, ask nicely, or shrug it off. Fact is, my hands are orange-colored because for years I have been peeling and eating as many as fifty oranges a day.

Oranges have become his personal brand, he tells Lauer. “I think everyone should grab a hold of something and own it,” he says. Too bad his personal brand of orange didn’t mesh with Tropicana’s vision.

Arnell also stopped in on BFF Martha Stewart’s show, where there were more oranges, plus a Jenny Craig-esque hauling out of the elastic-waist sweatpants, as well as another slightly-troubling detail of his weight loss: The dolls that he had custom-made of himself by a Japanese dollmaker to commemorate every 50 pounds he lost. We also get insight into his diet–lots of nuts–and his motivation techniques–no scale.

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The book (forward by Martha!) also has plenty of information about his branding work, as well as an entire self-help methodology–Shift–that gives advice ranging from “Branding and the Power of Positive Emotions” to “Create a Fan Club.” “This is not a diet book,” warns the first chapter. But it is an entire book about oranges. It would have been the perfect tie-in for Tropicana.

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.

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