Saturday, August 06, 2016

Pea Soup Andersen's, Solvang, California

If you ever find yourself driving on California's 101 Freeway, just north of Santa Barbara, you might start to notice billboards advertising a restaurant and roadside attraction in glorious Buellton (right next door to charming Solvang) - Pea Soup Andersen's. This restaurant has been a SoCal fixture since 1924 when it was founded by Anton and Juliette Andersen.

This first not-great snapshot shows the famous photo op that allows visitors to pose as PSA's two cartoon mascots, chefs "Hap-pea" and "Pea-wee", as they use brute force to split each pea using a mallet and a chisel. I use a rifle!

The restaurant served typical restaurant fare, but of course was most famous for the pea soup, which was based on one of Juliette's family recipes brought over from France. They serve some 500 to 600 gallons of the stuff a day!

In 1965, PSA was sold to a man named Vince Evans, who added an aviary, and small wild animal park, and a steam train that encircled the property. I never knew about the steam train until I found this undated slide! I wonder what became of this little locomotive? Perhaps it went to a zoo, or even a private collector.

This next photo is dated August 1970, and while the train tracks are still there, their days were numbered. Sometime in 1970 the aviary, zoo, and train were removed to make way for a Danish-themed hotel. Du godeste! 

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Pea Soup Andersen's!


Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I didn’t know they had one in Solvang. I always think of the one way up in more what you might call central California, you know, the one with the windmill, WAY out in the boondocks. My dad is a Danish immigrant who lived in Solvang (what a cliché). He worked on a dairy farm for a few years there. I’ll bet he remembers that old Andersen's Split Pea place. I’ll ask him in the morning about it.

TokyoMagic! said...

I've never been, but I have pics of my dad and ex stepmother dining there in 1973. They didn't take us along! I didn't know the restaurant had a train and a zoo, but I guess they would have been gone by then anyway.

Nanook, is that by any chance a Ford LTD with a white vinyl roof in the last pic?

Scott Lane said...

I'll leave the definitive decision to Nanook, but it looks too small for an LTD to me. A Javelin, maybe.

K. Martinez said...

I seem to remember a billboard for this restaurant when driving south on 101 to L.A. It was up for years but I never went. Maybe somewhere around the Salinas Valley or SLO. Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing a Mercury Cougar.

Unknown said...

Ah, yes. Pea Soup Andersen's. Definitely a stop on the weekend road trip from UCSB. Until recently (and I mean years ago) there was one at Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad, just up the road from me. The building still has the exposed beam look and I think it was a motel until recently.

stu29573 said...

1970 Mercury Cougar.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Wow, and unless I'm mistaken two Rambler's in one shot. The white 4 door keeping the Cougar company and a little red wagon (up the hill) keeping the green Dodge company.

Awesome shots Major. Thanks for posting.

I only ate at the soup restaurant once but the Pea Soup was pretty darned good.

Due to the location near the highway it was probably a double "p" spot for long road trips. Deposits and withdrawls if'n you catch my drift. ;-)

Nanook said...

The cars are getting too new to easily identify-!

But... in the image with the train (who knew they had a train-?) we've got a Volkswagen Squareback Wagon. Moving down, there's a white, 1964 or '65-? Buick Special. (And, yes, it was 'special', 'cause Mom liked it the best-!) Slightly up above is a red/white 1966-? Rambler station wagon. Next to it, a 1966-? Dodge Charger. Then back down, is a Dodge or Plymouth something-or-another.

And, TM!, that metallic blue w/white top is a 1969, Mercury Cougar. I say 1969 rather than 1970, as it appears (to me, anyway - and it's hard to discern from this image), the taillights match those from the 1969 model year.

The white car to its right is just not doing it for me without a bit more help.

I think the last time I visited Andersen's (in Buellton) was probably back in 1962 or 1963, on our way to Hearst Castle. And during our meal, a guy sitting at a nearby table ordered a beer, but requested the waitress add ice cubes to the glass-! At overhearing that request, my dad was taken aback - and even in my formative years, knew something was just not right. The things you remember...

Thanks, Major, for these images and jarring my memory. (With all this talk about beer, I think I'm gonna grab a nice, tall frosty one - wearing not a speck of ice-!!)

Nanook said...

@ Alonzo P. Hawk-

WINNER-! WINNER-! I believe you are correct. That white baby near the Cougar is a 1965 Rambler - maybe even a 'Classic' model. (Give that man a good, 5-cent cigar).

Major Pepperidge said...

Monkey Cage Kurt, at one time I believe that there were as many as four Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurants. The one you are thinking of is probably the Santa Nella location. That one and the Beullton location are the only two left.

TokyoMagic!, it’s funny, I’ve driven by PSA’s a hundred times, even stopping nearby, but I’m always on my way to someplace, and in a hurry! So I’ve never been there to eat.

Scott Lane, I have no guesses at all!

K. Martinez, the restaurant has LOTS of billboards along the 101 even today. I suppose it’s possible that you would have seen one around SLO, even though the restaurant would have been over an hour away.

Anonymous, if you say so!

Patrick Devlin, the other two locations were Mammoth Lakes and Carlsbad, so you are correct!

stu29573… the controversy continues.

Alonzo, cars! Cars! I’ve got nothing to add! The only pea soup I’ve ever eaten was my grandmothers, and it was excellent. Lots of smoked ham.

Nanook, what, no Oldsmobiles? Also, ice in beer does sound very odd. It still surprises me when I see people putting ice in their wine glasses, but that seems to be a bit more common. If it’s hot where you are, have some warm tortilla chips, a bowl of spicy salsa for dipping, and a tall frosty beer. Yum.

Nanook, was there ever such a thing as a good 5 cent cigar?

MRaymond said...

What a memory jarring I just got. Our vacations in the 60s and 70s were road trips and Solvang was a family favorite. PSA was a 'must stop' location on these trips. I don't remember the train but I do remember the tracks. My dad tripped on them and said my bad words.

Unknown said...

Great info, Chuck, Thanks as always.

And Major! Your grandmothers were turned into pea soup? Oh, the horror...

Alonzo P Hawk said...

@ Nanook
Thanks, I'm getting ready to mow the lawn. I join you in the cold beer and fire up an El Stinkadoro as well. Cheers.

Melissa said...

If you should hear a hammer strike
And a loud, unhappea "Oops!"
I hope that you can learn to like
The taste of chef's-thumb soup.

Chuck said...

Folks, my apologies. This was my first effort at text-embedded hyperlinks, and I messed up the syntax which screwed up several of the links. And then my first effort to fix it wasn't right, either. That's what I get for skipping breakfast.

Let's try this one more (and, hopefully, lasttime...

The Chuck Thing, 20160806, Take Three. Aaaaand - ACTION!

The locomotive is a "standard" 24-inch gauge steam locomotive built by Crown Metal Products near Elizabeth, PA (note the crown logo on the number plate on the front of the boiler). While I wasn't able to find any information about the fate of this specific locomotive, there's a good chance it's still operating somewhere; the roster I was able to find lists a lot of these locomotives with unknown histories.

If it looks familiar, you've probably seen one of its sisters. Hersheypark operates two clones, the Skooter and the Janelle, on their Dry Gulch Railroad, while Knott's Berry Farm operates the Cordelia K. on the Great Sierra Railway in Camp Snoopy. Cordelia K. is mechanically identical to the others but sports the optional straight smokestack rather than the standard balloon stack.

As an aside, while you will occasionally read online about Bud Hurlbut's miniature train being moved from Knott's east side to Camp Snoopy in 1983, that's not accurate. After Knott's, Bud's train operated at Castle Park for a while before returning to his workshop, where it was located at the time of Bud's death in 2011.

Bud's train manufacturing business was purchased from his estate by Kaitland Trains of Temecula, although I'm not sure if that included the original Knott's Miniature Train locomotive and cars. Their Facebook page shows an uncaptioned photograph (that Blogger won't let me link for some reason) of a locomotive and passenger car that look identical to the train that ran at Knott's, although I'd assume that Bud's company made their trainsets to a standard design.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

@Melissa, that’s what I’m talkin about. Don’t ever leave us again!

Nanook said...

@ Alonzo P Hawk-

Personally, I prefer "Stingeroos, four for a nickel".

Chuck said...

Ah, felgercarb! I give up. Enjoy the typos, folks - I'm getting something to eat.

stu29573 said...

Actually, Nanook, it could go either way! If only we had a high def pic where we could count the lines on the taillights, lol!

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

WHOA! Bud lived until 2011?! He must’ve been pretty darn up there by that time. When I met him in 1986 he was already pretty darn up there! Very nice guy BTW.

Chuck, you and TM! never cease to amaze me. Nanook and his cars, you guys and your theme parks knowledge, it’s awesome! I love that history on the trains. While we’re at it, do either of you guys know the fate of the old “Cordelia K” riverboat from the lagoon area?

So, why am I craving a cheap cigar now?

Nanook said...

@ stu29573-


TokyoMagic! said...

Anonymous, Stu and Nanook, thanks for answering my car question. I told you once before that I don't know anything about cars! It sort of looked like the LTD that my mom once had, but something looked different about it.

Kurt, good question....I also want to know what happened to the Cordelia K. steamboat that was at the Knott's Lagoon. Why do I have a feeling that it was just scrapped? And I wonder what happened to the Walter K. steamboat from Camp Snoopy?

Chuck, I had no idea the Knott's Lagoon train went to Castle Park and then back to Bud's shop. I had always heard that it went to a private collector. Does the train in the photo you saw have a number on the front of it's engine? The Knott's Lagoon train had the number "1033" on it's engine. I know the one Bud built for Santa's Village in Sky Forest is now at the Santa Ana Zoo and still has it's original number of "1030" on it's engine.

Chuck said...

TM! - I didn't even think to check the engine number! The one in the Kaitland Trains photo is 1037, which means it's almost certainly a different locomotive.

Here's the raw URL (if it'll let me post it):

I have no idea what happened to the Cordelia K. or Walter K. "steam" boats. I sure don't have them.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Only just asked dad about the Andersen’s in Solvang. He remembered it, but never ate there. He lived there in the early to mid 50s, said there was no train at that time (not surprisingly). BTW, dad turns 90 in three days.

Major Pepperidge said...

Holy Moly! I get home from a few hours at the museum… look at all the comments! How do I use them to make millions of dollars??

MRaymond, what are some of the bad words that your dad said? In alphabetical order, please.

Patrick, ha ha, the missing apostrophe made all the difference. And we made my grandmothers into corn dogs. We’re not savages!

Alonzo, “El Stinkadoro”, sounds like a name from a Warner Bros. cartoon.

Melissa, I don’t know if you made that poem up yourself or if it is from something!

Chuck, you’ve done it again! Thanks for the valuable info and research. I have to admit that I was wondering if the PSA train could be one of Bud Hurlbut’s.

Monkey Cage Kurt, we’ll just have to keep on encouraging her.

Nanook, “Stingeroos”, is that a real thing?

Chuck, I hope you are enjoying a nice macaroni & cheese with jalapeños and crushed salt and vinegar potato chips on top.

stu29573, when I get home tonight (if I think of it) I’ll see if the original slide is clear enough to see the tail lights.

Monkey Cage Kurt, I went to an event (Chris Merritt’s first, long, amazing “Knott’s Talk”), and sat right behind Bud Hurlbut! This was probably just a year or so before he passed away.

Nanook, indubitably!

TokyoMagic!, I thought I read (somewhere) that the Cordelia K. was scrapped, but I couldn’t tell you where I read it. Or if I just imagined it. Didn’t even know there was a “Walter K.” steamboat.

Chuck, I have both the Cordelia K. and the Walter K. on my 120,000 acre Wyoming ranch.

Monkey Cage Kurt, I am trying to imagine what Solvang must have been like in the 1950’s. It must have been way out in the middle of nowhere!

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

No Major, I’m pretty sure it was in the same spot it is in today.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Only it wasn’t as much a tourist trap as it is now.

Nanook said...


Always steal from the best. 'Stingeroos' was lifted from that fine W.C. Fields film Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. The surrounding dialogue went something like this...

The Great Man: Have, uh, you any imported cigars?
Waitress: 'Stingeroos', four for a nickel.
The Great Man: Oh, that's fine. As long as they're imported.
[she holds out box of cigars, he takes four]
The Great Man: You know, if anybody ever comes in here and gives you a ten dollar tip... uh, scrutinize it carefully. There's a lot of that counterfeit money going around.
[she holds out her hand for the money for the cigars]
The Great Man: I'll give you the dough. Don't...
[puts a coin in her hand]
The Great Man: Here... there.
Waitress: If I get any counterfeit nickels or pennies, I'll know where they came from,

Unknown said...

My dad took home movies of my brother and me riding on that very train. I think it was the summer of 72 or 73. I haven't run that reel in quite awhile, but I know I've got it in storage under the house.

stu29573 said...
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stu29573 said...
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stu29573 said...

"Count the lines on the tail lights" sounds like an Elton John lyric... Just saying, lol!

Melissa said...

Melissa, I don’t know if you made that poem up yourself or if it is from something!

It’s from Alban Berg's final operatic triumph, the serialist masterpiece Die Erbsensupp’oper. The rousing "Chiseler’s Chorus" is sung by the Schinkenknochenmädchen (Hambone Maidens) as they rise like steam from the stock pot.

Melissa said...

Melissa, I don’t know if you made that poem up yourself or if it is from something!

It’s from Alban Berg's final operatic triumph, the serialist masterpiece Die Erbsensupp’oper. The rousing "Chiseler’s Chorus" is sung by the Schinkenknochenmädchen (Hambone Maidens) as they rise like steam from the stock pot.

Chuck said...

Melissa, sie sind ein Comic-Genie.

DrGoat said...

When I saw the title of this post I had to laugh. We took a trip to Disneyland every summer from 1957 till we stopped in '68. Every single time, my parents would have to stop in Solvang and get Anderson's split pea soup. We would spend about 4 or 5 hours there, much to me and my sister's consternation. Thanks, I thought we were the only ones.

Tom said...

Late to the game as per usual... but loved those signs as a kid. Part of the DNA of growing up in California.

Anonymous said...

I love this thread so much...

Numerous trips to Solvang as a 2nd gen. Dane. Meals at both Buellton and Santa Nella.

I still drive by the Santa Nella location fairly often, but haven't stopped there for years and years. It used to be in the "middle" of a long trip, but now it's so close, there's no need to stop and better places further south.

I don't recall that the food was so good in either location, but the little mascots guys were memorable.

@Melissa: "Hambone Maidens" "snort"


walterworld said...

I've stopped at the Santa Nella location often on my way to my Grand-mas house in Aptos. They still have a great Split Pea Soup!

Also: There was another PSA in Selma on Hwy 99 for a few years, but then it went 'independent' and became the Spike Rail Inn for awhile before going dark entirely...

Thank you Major!