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Update #8

The Hunt for Orange Gelée

By Marie Lodi | Dec 5, 2023

Like many other worthy legends, Orange Gelée has endured throughout its long, illustrious, nearly century-old history. So, where does one begin when embarking on such a colossal endeavor? You must search far and wide for old tubes. It sounds daunting, but who doesn’t love a good hunt? Grab your Sherlock cap and learn what happened behind the scenes when the Vacation® staff gathered old tubes of Orange Gelée for this vital research.

The Costly Secondhand Market of Orange Gelée

Orange Gelée has amassed a wholly devoted fan base since it was dreamt up by Monsieur Antoine of Paris in 1925. So, it wasn’t surprising how devastating it was for loyal Orange Gelée lovers when they learned of its discontinuation in 2019 and what some might do—or pay— to ensure that their stock never dwindles, even when that means hundreds of dollars.

Back in 1979, a tube of Orange Gelée would cost you about $2.99. Now, if you look up the product on various online reseller sites, you’ll see 150 times the price. After news of its demise, fans began snagging the product wherever they could find it. Those lucky enough to still have tubes at home hoarded them, cherishing every remaining drop, while others listed them on third-party reseller sites like eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari at astronomical prices, some upwards of $500. In a New York Post article from 2021, one fan “stalked every store and site” to get her hands on the product but didn’t plan to spend more than $100 on a secondhand market buy.

One of our Orange Gelée Advisory Board Members, Denise Dion, a longtime Orange Gelée user and mom of a Vacation® employee, was one of the hardcore fans who purchased a tube on eBay, but before they shot up to hundreds of dollars. “I think it was about 50 bucks. We were sitting around the house, going, ‘Whatever happened to it?’ And then [my friend] Cindy and I started looking it up, and someone had a tube,” she says. Another Board Member, photographer Deana Clement, purchased a $400 tube for her Orange Gelée photography project. “It is crazy what some people are asking for these tubes,” she says. “To give you an idea, when I launched this project and started it, my mom was like, ‘Get me one, how much is that?’ I'm like, Mom, it's $400. ‘She’s like, ‘I think I need a new one.’ And I said, I'm not buying you one! It’s just so funny. There is this weird cult following.”

To properly resurrect this orange icon, a lot of research is required. Naturally, the Vacation® staff had to get its hands on some of these elusive and expensive tubes. “Truth be told, it's not easy to buy an enormous amount because they're not easy to come by,” says Katrina Virani, Vice President Of Product Development at Vacation®. The tubes Katrina acquired from the search cost roughly $350-$400.

There were other challenges with the search. Not only did Orange Gelée become exorbitantly expensive and increasingly difficult to find, but the tubes they came across were not in the best condition for proper analysis. Many were expired from years past, and some even qualified as vintage. However, Katrina made some interesting discoveries. “In all of the tubes we bought, the things that stayed consistent were the texture, the way it melts into your skin, and the way it looked on your skin after,” she says. However, the scent was always affected, making it hard to evaluate — that is, until a fifth tube got in her hands. This particular tube would be crucial for examining Orange Gelée’s iconic scent in a formula that wasn’t spoiled or oxidized.

Katrina found the tube on eBay for almost $400. Though it had expired, it wasn’t as old as others. But the best thing? It had never been open. Jackpot! An unopened tube was an extremely rare find on the secondhand market.“When I punctured the tube, the smell was totally different than the others,” she says. During meetings with the Orange Gelée Advisory Board, Katrina observed a common thread among the OG users. “They kept saying, ‘The scent is so sophisticated and intoxicating. You smell rich,’” Katrina recalls. When she found the unopened tube of Orange Gelée, that luxurious, familiar scent hit her like a ton of bricks. “This is exactly what they're talking about,” she says.

Stay tuned for next time when we dive into the ingredients that make up Orange Gelée.

The Hunt for Orange Gelée

The Orange Gelèe Revival Project is a joint initiative between Vacation® and Orange Gelee fans to bring back the beloved product by Summer 2024.

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The Orange Gelée Revival Project is now complete.

Shop The Completed Orange Gelée


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