Tue 25 Aug 2009
I can’t tell you whether the charbroiling burger smells that emanate from Carl’s Jrs are unique in their aroma, but I can tell you that when I biked by the one on the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue yesterday morning and got a good whiff in passing, I boarded the sense-memory express on a nonstop flight that took me and my olfactory system all the way back to when my age was in single digits and I made numerous trips by bike to that very same franchise location from where I lived at the time about a mile away in the slums of Beverly Hills.
But not for the food. For the drinks. Or rather the glasses they came in. I don’t remember the particular connection between the fast-food chain and Warner Bros., all I know is that in the early 1970s Carl’s Jr began selling glassware emblazoned with pretty much every Warner Bros.cartoon character you can imagine.
Mind you, these were not the cheap thin crap glass you get in promos nowadays. These were thick and sleek, with a heavy bottom from which the sides rose and tapered out and surrounded some 16 ounces of the beverage of your choice. And the artwork? Equally awesome. Whether it was Bugs Bunny or Sylvester or Tweety Bird or Yosemite Sam or Foghorn Leghorn or anyone else in the Looney Tunes cavalcade of cartoon legends, the images were authentic, the colors perfect and the paint thick giving it a bit of dimensionality off the glass — as if they’d jumped straight out of the TV and into real life.
Even at my unadvanced age, I knew these were well-crafted things I’d cherish forever.
Needless to say I saved my nickels and dimes and would make regular trips every weekend to that very Carl’s Jr I biked by yesterday morning, and I would march inside to the display at the front counter in high hopes that a new character glass had arrived.
If it was one I already had, I’d withdraw, bummed out. Maybe I’d bike over and hang out with the Dan the Miner statue in Carthay Circle, scuffing the grass with my sneakers in impatient frustration — in large part because I was playing catch-up in something of a gotta-get-‘em-all competition with my best friend Randy, who lived in Van Nuys and was collecting them as well. In fact I’m pretty sure I only found out about the glasses during a visit to his house when he showed off the ones he’d already obtained from the Carls Jr near his house on Woodman Avenue and Burbank Boulevard. So envious was I that I’m pretty sure I contemplated stealing them from him. Instead from that point on the race was on.