"Beany" Burger - 20¢
December 21, 2014 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Spend 8 minutes in the '50s, at Beany's Drive-in (and thru).
posted by HuronBob (28 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Shrimp - 50¢! I would've thought seafood too adventurous for Americans of the fifties. Also, I wonder if people made really thin burgers like that for themselves at home.

Nice find.
posted by ignignokt at 7:24 AM on December 21, 2014

Is it weird that I now cannot watch films from this period without expecting some sort of MST3K-style narration.

"Just keep walking girls...no, don't wave at him Susan! Great, now he's probably going to try and get an upskirt or something..."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:29 AM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is the guy wearing the gray shirt and blue jeans at 2:23 a time traveler?
posted by xedrik at 7:37 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

It just occurred to me that when people describe their trips to Cuba, it conjures an image just like this: friendly people, old cars, dated architecture, as if Cuba was trapped in a 50's time-bubble. I'm sure my mental image is wrong, but it's pleasant to consider.
posted by SPrintF at 7:45 AM on December 21, 2014

I always notice the oil derricks everywhere in the background.

And how smoggy it was; those old cars were really cranking out the pollution!

KTKSBYE...heading over to In n Out now....
posted by CrowGoat at 7:56 AM on December 21, 2014

There's an old style drive through that operates in North Calgary, best experienced in the summer but I may brave the winter chill next time I'm driving past.
posted by arcticseal at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2014

I would've thought seafood too adventurous for Americans of the fifties.

Oh, heavens no. While this place most likely was serving fried shrimp, back then the shrimp cocktail was quite the thing. A sign that you were fine dining.

Oh, and I should note...Beany and Cecil began as a puppet show, airing locally in L.A. in 1949. Note the kid with the copter cap adorning the Beany's signage. That's Beany. And, you did notice the "Cecil" Sundae on the menu board, right?

I'd love to know more about how this obvious-to-our-jaded-eyes bit of licensing happened. I have to wonder if Bob Clampett had any direct connection to the business?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

Those Beany's employees were nibbling quite a bit on the job. Busted for all time.
posted by Beardman at 8:27 AM on December 21, 2014

Yeah seafood was coded for fine dining, a shrimp cocktail is an iconic 50s appetizer. Oysters still have that reputation.

Is the guy wearing the gray shirt and blue jeans at 2:23 a time traveler

jeans, or dungarees, with a simple work shirt where just that WORK CLOTHES - not something nice you'd wear to go out. It was a working class/blue collar outfit -- why it was so shocking when Brando became a smoldering sex symbol wearing clothes that a mechanic would wear, it was the first real male sex symbol in the movies to be coded as specifically working class. Movie idols tended to be slinky aristocratic and fancy, or rugged in some fantasy /past way like a pirate or something.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

No, time travel seems like a better answer.
posted by angerbot at 9:19 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

No, time travel seems like a better answer.

He's from the late 21st century multinational BeanyCo's HR department, and he's traveled back in time to fire those employees caught snacking in the film.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is the guy wearing the gray shirt and blue jeans at 2:23 a time traveler?

Wow, I actually came into this thread to post the same thing. The jeans are pretty distressed looking too, and that definitely wasn't a thing, so yeah, work pants. But the shirt is clean and in good shape, and he doesn't work with machinery, not with those sleeves. Also the kid in the short shorts a bit in front of him. Are those cutoff jeans? I didn't think that was a thing until the late 1960s.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:48 AM on December 21, 2014

The cut of the shirt gives it away, though. It ends right at the (rather high) waistband of his jeans and was clearly designed by somebody who felt that a mens' shirt that wasn't meant to be tucked in had no reason to come down further than the belt. You wouldn't have to worry about your belly poking out because 1) it's 1952 and you haven't had enough Beany burgers yet to develop a belly and 2) you are of course wearing an undershirt.
posted by contraption at 9:59 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would very much like to know an address so I can jump onto Google street view and see what this area looks like now. I always like to do that with old pictures and movies to see how places change and stay the same over time.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 10:10 AM on December 21, 2014

Since it was next to the marquee for the Circle drive-in, that places it right at PCH and Ximeno Avenue.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:40 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Shrimp - 50¢! I would've thought seafood too adventurous for Americans of the fifties.

Yes, until the hippies, we just let the oceans overflow.
posted by jonmc at 10:49 AM on December 21, 2014

Thanks for this post! I grew up around this area in the 90s. Can't believe how much it has changed. For one, the demographic is definitely more diverse now. And it's interesting to see the Cold War-themed movie playing at the drive-in.
posted by Sa Dec at 12:21 PM on December 21, 2014

I was surprised to see footage of a Drive-Thru dated in the early '50s, since I assumed the format was invented by either Jack in the Box or In-and-Out Burger... which, through further googling, I learned were founded in 1951 and 1948 respectively, both in Southern California. So In-and-Out wins "first" although Jack upped the ante with the big plastic clown head and "talk to Jack" gimmick.

The More You Know The Less Important It Is.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:29 PM on December 21, 2014

That was great -- I was only a year or two old and my favorite aunt and uncle wouldn't move to Long Beach (4th and Orizaba) for another few years, but this caused intense nostalgia anyway. I'll have a Beany Burger and a cheeseburger, fries, a shake, and a black coffee, and make it snappy!
posted by languagehat at 12:32 PM on December 21, 2014

"Sublime Food at Ridiculous Prices"
posted by Spatch at 2:07 PM on December 21, 2014

Me too - that time traveler at 2:23 brought me up short.
posted by Jackson at 4:02 PM on December 21, 2014

An Oh! the cars!
posted by Jackson at 4:03 PM on December 21, 2014

Would any fast food place today put a drinking fountain in front of the walk up window where the line to order forms?

It's probably relevant that in those days sodas typically came in 8oz cups.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:36 PM on December 21, 2014

So what's interesting is that at this very same moment, late 1952 and only 70 miles to the east in San Bernadino, the McDonald brothers had just completed the next revision of their hamburger stand.

This looks like exactly the same concept. Very sparse menu with low prices, pre-cooked items wrapped and ready to pack, and customer walk-up service at the front window (with the actual improvement of a drive-thru window).

So if Ray Kroc had stumbled upon Beany's instead of the McDonalds' restaurant, where would we be today? Or was Beany's just not as popular because of some randomizing factor like location or clientele?

I will now time-slip back to my home universe and desk job at BeanyCorp HQ, located in Chicago Illinois, a suburb of Oakbrook Megatopolis III. I'll let dungaree guy (his name is Ronald) know to dress a little more inconspicuously on his next visit back
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:50 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's something very moving about this little bit of history...at least to me. I was born in 1952 and grew up during this golden age in Southern California [I know, I know...]

The cars look so comfortable, and I laughed at the shot of the little boys hanging out the windows. This was the pre-casual era, thus the ladies in dresses and pumps at the hamburger stand. There were so many employees in such a small space, and apparently snacking on fries was ok.

I recall the McDonald's burgers of my youth costing 15 cents, so maybe the Krocs were able to undercut indie burger joints like this?
posted by Sassenach at 5:56 PM on December 21, 2014

50s California sure hated trees.
Street view shows it a lot greener now:
posted by bystander at 12:49 AM on December 22, 2014

This is a shot in the dark but I believe this would have been the intersection view shown at the beginning. The uphill slant and the row houses in the background suggest facing south down Ximeno towards the residential strip on 15th. I can't match any houses or windows exactly, but the style and position is right. The strip mall now blocks the view of those houses. If this is correct the Burger King is basically where they Beany's stood. There are still a few mid-century structures remaining along this stretch of PCH.
posted by anazgnos at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2014

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