That circle with three oranges in the foreground? It’s a mystery. The earliest known appearance is on a 1948 book of county ordinances. On that version, one of the mountains in the background is clearly Old Saddleback—a detail that’s muddled in later versions. “County of Orange, California” appears in a 1930s-ish font on the ring surrounding the emblem. The county never officially adopted this logo, but it appears on the county flag, letterhead, publications, vehicles, and other government property. I’ve also seen it tattooed on the heads of gang members, appropriated as a logo for private businesses, and sold on hats and shirts in the display window of a Santa Ana head shop. It’s versatile.
Chris Jepsen is the Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.