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History of the 76 Gas Station

August 21, 2018

People know the 76 Station brand from the orange circle and blue numbers. As a reliable and known station since the 30’s, 76 Stations have been a solid and strong contender in the oil and gas market because of their commitment to quality of product. Offering premium gas and quality services, Virgin Valley Food Mart is happy to provide 76 gas to the community surrounding our location as well as the many travelers coming to us from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas. Mesquite is a great place to stop on any longer road trips between these cities, and 76 gas is the reliable way to get you from one side to the other. This ubiquitous brand was formed in 1932 and the history of the 76 Station is one to be shared with their consumers.

Where It Started

76 stations originated in California, operated by Union Oil of California, otherwise known as Unocal. It was a popular brand in the Los Angeles area and grew in popularity and recognition throughout the west coast upward toward Seattle. Since its genesis the company has gone through other changes of ownership and now operates in company with Conoco and Phillips 66. There is a mysterious nostalgia that surrounds the brand however, and people have come to remember then and recognize now the same commitment to quality.

The Orange Ball

While the company, Union Oil established itself in California in the 30’s, the well-known orange ball did not come into play until 1962. These orange 76 balls were a part of the brand’s signage, but this kind of invention in signage was actually quite radical for the time. The designer, Ray Pederson, had referenced the typical gas station signage that was used as a “lollipop” style. This hampered its visibility in his mind, as it was only visible as it spun in two directions at a time. The sphere that became the 76 ball was his solve to the lacking visibility in signage and it became instantly memorable. 

Five years later, gas stations began distributing them to the public as antenna balls. This incited almost a craze of individuals representing the brand on their own vehicles, sporting the little styrofoam 76 balls on their radio antennae. The bright colors could be seen as helpful if spotted in a winter storm, but did not actually have any function, just a knick-knack and now, a nostalgic picture.

The 76 brand has since done away with the spinning orange sphere atop most of the gas stations, as they ran into different road bumps like energy concerns, and ultimately followed the trend of keeping things more simple and clean to represent their culture. Many west coasters found the change to be upsetting, since that styrofoam ball brought back sweet California memories and nostalgia from the 1970s, but it is important for brands and companies to reinvent and promote new ideas.

You can get your own piece of history - some people have their personal car antenna 76 balls for sale on eBay!

Commitment to Quality

Ultimately, 76 stations focus on providing the highest quality and always meeting their high standards. They pride themselves on being the cleanest stations available for their customers, and at Virgin Valley Food Mart, we keep that focus ourselves as well.  

What’s in a Name?

The name of the company - 76 - is not as well explained. There are theories online that describe the name stemming from an association with American independence - 1776 is the year of the American Revolution. There have been different marketing campaigns which reference the “spirit of 76” referring to the liberty and independent spirit of the founders of the county. This is more of a sentimental association and could be the inspiration for the name of the gas company itself.

Quality Above All

At 76 gas stations, you can be sure you will be met with quality products. As a tenant of the ethos of 76, the PRO clean fuel is top of the line and the best fuel you can use in your vehicle. There are a lot of benefits that come with using top tier fuel, like keeping your car’s engine from getting buildup and clogs, as well as keeping the underside of the hood a lot cleaner than with other types of fuel. The best part about getting gas with 76 is that you know that any type of fuel you use is top tier. Even the unleaded (not premium) fuel is top tier, so it is just a smart way to ensure you are using the best products to protect your investment.

The difference in cost for consumers to receive the best quality fuel they can for their vehicle is also extremely minimal. If you think about what you might save in automotive repairs when compared to the few extra dollars that might go toward better gasoline, it is the more economical choice in every way. If you choose to visit 76 stations for your fuel, you can be confident you are filling up your tank with the best option at your disposal.

Looking for more information about our gas or our station? Follow us on Facebook to learn more about the history of the 76 stations as well as some helpful advice to guide you along your journeys on the road. Virgin Valley Food Mart is the perfect stopping place if you are traveling by RV - you can park on our grounds to sleep, but enjoy plenty of entertainment conveniently located within walking distance of our station. We’ve got all the snack and supplies you’ll need to keep you going along your way, so be sure to stop in and check out our facilities while you are in Mesquite if you’re just passing through. Check out our guide for some activities to keep in mind as you travel through the area and catch some of the lesser seen parts of nature!