KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.
I am a broadcaster.
Consequently, each April, I find myself crossing the desert, on my way to Las Vegas and the National Association of Broadcasters convention. This particular trip brought about a dilemma: Where to stop for food on our way back? Our usual go-to location, Bun Boy in Baker, had closed. Instead, what we decided to do is visit Peggy Sue's 50's Diner just north of Barstow at the Yermo Annex.
I had been here years ago, and it was basically the same now: The food and the service were top-notch and the music and atmosphere is pure '50s. When I picked up the menu, I saw that there was a menu item called the "Huell Howser Hawaiian Honey Ham & Pineapple Cheeseburger." Intrigued, I decided to try it and I was pleased with my purchase. The waitress mentioned that the late Huell Howser, would stop by quite often in his travels and he even owned the infamous Volcano House in nearby Newberry Springs.
This chance encounter got me wondering what else is out there on restaurant menus that is named after Huell. Producing over 2,000 shows in a 27-year career, he saw and visited many locations -- and quite a few restaurants. What I have here is not an exhaustive list, but it is my best start at one. Feel free to mention some that you have seen, in the comment section below.
One of the most well known locations, is Pink's Hot Dogs. The "Huell Howser Dog" is a standard chili dog with two of their regular hot dogs on a single bun and it costs $5.80. It has been a menu item for over a decade and is one of their top-five best-sellers. He lived in this area of Los Angeles, and so it was his home turf.
With Huell, it was all about the peanut butter. His favorite doughnut, "The Huell," has a peanut butter pocket in the center and chocolate on top. I contacted Stan's Doughnuts in Westwood and they said that he also liked the doughnut with peanut butter and banana, but noted that the doughnut does not carry his name. Prices vary, according to how many you buy, but a single doughnut is $3.
The Tallyrand in Burbank has a hot turkey sandwich menu item that has a note saying that it was Huell's favorite. I have seen many people choose this item, just to pay respect to the man. As a matter of fact, when we had a private toast to Huell after his passing, this is where we went. It's roasted turkey with herb dressing, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. It sells for $9.95.
Broguiere's Dairy in Montebello, produced a glass bottle that carried Huell's picture and says "Favorite Visitor - Huell Howser / 'California's Gold.'" I happen to own one and a quick check with Broguiere's revealed that the Huell bottles are still in circulation and still available to customers.
I am glad that there are places that keep his memory alive.
This is another in a series of posts where Cathy Bower, KCET's broadcast operations coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Read more entries here.