What is the Difference Between Cuties & Halos?

What is the Difference Between Halos and Cuties mandarin oranges California
(Last Updated On: November 28, 2016)

Difference Between Cuties and Halos

The produce world can be a confusing place at times. We got sweet potatoes sometimes called yams, we called cabbage that looks clearly purple, red cabbage, and what are those little orange fruits that come in 5 pound boxes? Clementines, Cuties, Halos, Dimples, Tangerines, Mandarins? The world of single serving, easy to peel citrus can leave one wondering. I am going to shine my years of produce experience on the subject today and talk about what is the difference between the popular Cuties and Halos. In the process I am doing my part to prevent any of these terms from becoming the next Kleenex (genericized term to refer to all facial tissues).

What is the Difference Between Cuties & Halos?

Are Cuties and Halos the same thing? Is the answer

A) Yes
B) No
C) Maybe
D) All of the above
….

..
.
If you answered D you are correct! How can that be? Let’s start with the most basic thing. Whether it’s a Cutie or a Halo it is a mandarin. A mandarin is “a small flattish citrus fruit with a loose skin, especially a variety with yellow-orange skin” (thank you Google dictionary). It does not have to be seedless but in the case of Cuties and Halos, it is.

Two Different Companies

What the name “Cuties” and “Halos” comes down to is marketing names. They are not actual varieties. The name “Cuties” is owned by Sun Pacific. The name “Halos” is owned by Paramount Citrus, who also has the trademark POM Wonderful. Paramount Citrus use to own the “Cuties” name. A split occurred in the company and Sun Pacific parts with the “Cuties” name. “Halos” is the brand name that Paramount choose as a replacement for “Cuties”.

Murcott Mandarins

Different Types of Mandarins

Here is something that I don’t think most people know. Cuties and Halos are different types of mandarins depending on what time of year it is. They are not always the Clementine variety. In fact, Clementines are only available during the beginning part of the citrus season (from November to January). The other mandarin commonly used is the W. Murcott. Often I see grocery stores naming even the Murcotts as Clementines as that name sells better. Just look at the calendar and you will have an idea of what you are really getting.

Availability Calendar

Below you will find what variety is in a box or bag of Cuties or Halos during the season:

Cuties

Variety Availability
Early Clementines November 1 to Thanksgiving
Clemenules Thanksgiving to Christmas
Clemenules Christmas to January
Late Mandarins January 16 to April 1

Halos

Variety Availability
Clementines November to January
W. Murcott February to April

Seedless?

Have you ever found a seed or two in either a Cutie or a Halo, or any other seedless mandarin? What gives? Read my post on Why There are Sometimes Seeds in Halos or Cuties.

Just for kicks, I decided to film my son in the grocery store. I had him pick if he wanted to buy the Cuties or the Halos. I wouldn’t call this a perfect scientific study, but he sure is cute making his choice.

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31 Comment

  1. Pearl Johnson says:

    Love the halos and the cuties.I wish I could get them all the time.

  2. Ardith says:

    Didn’t realize the halo/cuties were only available certian times of the year. Now I know. Had to buy the clementines that are not as good. :((

  3. Ann Hopkins says:

    thanks for the info!

  4. Eric Samuelson says:

    You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Joy says:

    Thank you for the information. I have always preferred the Cuties, just seemed sweeter to me. So I asked a produce manager at Jewel Food Store in Dyer, Indiana, yesterday.

    He tells me that Cuties and Halos are the very same, no difference except the name. Then proceeds to tell me that the same family owned Cuties, there was a rift and one got the name Halo and one got to keep Cutie and they were all grown in the same orchard. Somehow that didn’t seem right to me, so that’s why I asked this question of you! Appreciate your info.

  6. Jackpriest1@gmail.com says:

    Outstanding explanation!

  7. Kathi Sue says:

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  8. Eric Samuelson says:

    Thank you! Glad you like this one!

  9. Eric Samuelson says:

    Thank you!

  10. M says:

    Thank you 😄

  11. Barbara Miller says:

    Love the Cuties and Halos. They are perfect in every way. Rarely buy Clementines anymore. They were great when they first came out but anymore too many distributors of them. As of late they are tasteless, seedy and hard to peel. I hope that doesn’t happen with the Cuties and Halos. Too many hands in the pot can often ruin a good thing !!!

  12. nursepinky says:

    Thank you for this information. But just for clarity, if I have a recipe (Clementine-Fig Spice Cake) that calls for clementines, is it ok to use Cuties or Halos?

  13. Eric Samuelson says:

    Two companies tried to work together and it didn’t work out at all. Thanks for the comment.

  14. Eric Samuelson says:

    You’re welcome!

  15. Eric Samuelson says:

    This time of year Cuties and Halos are a different variety than they were at the start of the season. Now they are most likely either Tangos or Murcotts. Murcotts can have seeds if the bees pollinate them. So that is why you are finding seeds in them. And often when a citrus variety first comes out for the season they are rushed to market without enough time to develop enough sweetness. I had a Murcott mandarin off a tree in California in late March and it was ridiculous good and sweet.
    The problem with Cuties and Halos and other name varieties is that the consumer isn’t directly told that they are using different varieties on the packaging, so people think that they are all the same, but they aren’t. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions.

  16. Eric Samuelson says:

    Yes. You could use any type of mandarin or even any kind of orange. The flavor will vary upon what you use, but anything would work. Let me know what you use and how it turns out.

  17. James says:

    The real question should be, does the producer of Cuties use oil wastewater to help irrigate their plants much like POM Wonderful has admitted to using to irrigate their Halos. I certainly hope not. We’ve boycotted Halos. Please say we don’t have to boycott Cuties too. 🙁

  18. Eric Samuelson says:

    I don’t know the answer to that question, but it something to look into. Definitely possible they have similar practices being they worked together at one time.

  19. […] first new crop of mandarins hit the stores before Thanksgiving including your Halos and Cuties which are the Clementine variety to start the season. However the quality is usually pretty poor. I […]

  20. cube says:

    I love them all, but read on that paragon of academic excellence, Facebook, that they’re grown in the toxic waste water of a large corporation. I won’t mention names, but you get the idea. Any truth to this?

  21. James says:

    Cuties are better, because Halos are grown in Delano, California.

    I’ll let you figure out what “del ano” is Spanish for.

  22. simone tatro says:

    Have you heard that these companies use toxic water to grow their fruit, is this true?

  23. Eric Samuelson says:

    I heard hear reports of this, but haven’t look enough into to know for sure. It’s definately something that is on my radar. Thanks for stopping by!

  24. Randi Countess says:

    So then we can’t buy them from May to October? Is that why I can’t find them at any of the Walmarts?

  25. Eric Samuelson says:

    Yep. You are correct. They are now out of season. You may find some seedless mandarins imported from places like Chile. but I never find them to be very good. Not worth your money.

  26. Faye says:

    Thanks for clarifying this for me. Good info. Every time I shopped, I wondered what the difference was, but by the time I got home, I never remembered to google.

  27. Barb Williamson says:

    Really enjoyed reading about mandarin oranges; I am 83 & I remember getting them in Xmas stocking; they came from Japan & it must have stopped at onset of WWII

  28. Joel says:

    Which are the really sweet ones? I just bought a 2lb. bag of Halos and they are harder to peel and decidedly tart and acidic. I don’t like them. Please offer guidance as to how t buy the really sweet ones. Thanks.

  29. Eric Samuelson says:

    That is not surprising to me all. These are the first of the year and often are not very good. I think they are rushed to market before they are ready in terms of flavor and sweetness. They also don’t peel as well either until later in the season. Honestly I would avoid buying them completely right now until at least after Thanksgiving. I never find that any citrus is worth my money until at least December. Hope that helps.

  30. Mike J. says:

    Me, I live in Florida, & eat a really good Mandarin–satsumas, picked right off my tree.

  31. Eric Samuelson says:

    That’s awesome. Satsumas are really good. Typically better than the Halos or Cuties brand clementine mandarins that are out at the same time.

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