Thursday, December 10, 2020

Casa de Fritos, 1978

The Mysterious Benefactor sent me hundreds of scans (mostly from the very groovy 1970s), and we've all enjoyed many of them already. You HAVE enjoyed them, haven't you (Major Pepperidge squints eyes as he refers to himself in the third person)?

How many other pictures have you seen from the kitchen area of Casa de Fritos? "Not many" I'll wager. Here are three employees working very hard to keep up with the flurry of orders. The young lady to the left looks like she's about 15. May I see your ID please, ma'am? Notice the applied mural on the wall, I'm not certain if it was designed by Mary Blair or if it just looks that way.

"I thought a job at Disneyland would be more fun", thinks the girl in the middle. She's suffering from "taco wrist", which is very painful (even worse than "burrito elbow"). Casa de Fritos typically sold more than ten million tacos on a busy day (I look forward to seeing that "fact" appear elsewhere).

Gina will ring up your order cheerfully and quickly. She might be Audio-Animatronic - who can tell? I have noticed that she recites the Gettysburg Address all the time, which is a little suspicious. But she has a nice smile, and that's all that truly matters.

Many thanks to the Mysterious Benefactor for sharing these neat scans.


TokyoMagic! said...

I can't open that last pic to enlarge it, but I can still see that that kid in line has a "Mickey's 50th Birthday" drink cup.

I feel bad for "taco wrist-girl." If she continued at that job for much longer, she most likely was not able to play "Pac-Man" when it arrived on the scene, two years later. Although, I suppose she might have been okay playing arcade games, if she just used her thicker, hairier "third arm," visible in the first pic.

"Lou and Sue" said...

More unique scans, and with the best commentary, as always!

In that last picture, macho man has his finger in her ear, I think.

It's 4:00 a.m. and I'm craving tacos!! Thanks MB and MP!

Melissa said...

I love these costumes; the crisp blouses and pointy aprons are beautiful. And the shadows on the wall in #2 are very artistic. I heard the only treatment for Taco Wrist is a compression bandage made of fresh tortillas. (Having written that, I can still taste in my memory the fresh tortillas they gave out at the old Mission tortilla factory at California Adventure.)

Chuck said...

Fun fact - if you took every tortilla Casa de Fritos ever made and laid them end to end, they would never have been able to sell them.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I fixed the 3rd photo so that it will enlarge (Google Photos strikes again!). Good eye on the “Mickey’s 50th” cup! I wouldn’t be surprised if some CMs wound up with injuries from repeating the same motions over and over. When I first got a job where I was on a computer ALL day, my wrist hurt for days!

Lou and Sue, you are too young to remember, but in the ’70s it was not uncommon for people to put their fingers into one another’s ears as a sign of affection or respect. And aren’t we all constantly craving tacos?

Melissa, I guess those shadows are artistic. German Expressionist? Paging Dr. Caligari. Only the precise coolness of a flour tortilla can soothe the discomfort of “taco wrist”, you must have been a Girl Scout to know such a fact. I’ve never had a fresh tortilla, much to my sadness.

Chuck, oh I don’t know about that; they would have just turned them into Doritos!

JC Shannon said...

Great behind the scenes action. Only now I want Mexican. The girl making the tacos has the longest eyelashes I have ever seen, must be all that spicy food. Thanks Major and MB.

DrGoat said...

The Mysterious Benefactor really was on a mission! Like you said Major, you don't see photos like this often, or at all. Close up and personal employee pics, with tacos yet. Great pics. That is a fun mural Major. Does have that Mary Blair flair to it.
JC, I crave Mexican food about 3 or 4 days a week. It's almost impossible to ignore it in Tucson. Lots of really good places to eat good Sonoran food. Lots of Sonoran Taco stands around town if you think you need to abuse your tummy too.
Tokyo, as long as she has the 99th level taco tool in her hand, she is impervious to taco wrist. I want one of those.
Chuck, We went up to see them laying those chips out when they passed through Arizona. It was a sight I'll never forget.
Thanks for taking pics like these, Mysterious B., and thanks Major, third person and all.

Stu29573 said...

I hate getting to the party late! Stupid job! All I have left to comment on are the special "Taco Tongs" being used by literally everyone working backline. Taco Tongs were invented by Thomas B. Taco in 1923 for use in the growing squid farming industry. They actually had nothing to do with the Mexican food, but confusion about the name meant they were doomed to be misused for generations. The chief issue with this misuse? Rampant Taco-Wrist.

Anonymous said...

If you think Taco Wrist is bad, wait till you get Churro Finger.

I spy another wood-grained cash register.

The wall mural reminds me of works by Ted DeGrazia.

Dr. Goat, have you ever been there? My Mom loved these.

I do enjoy these "you-are-there" scenes. Who would think we would ever be homesick for waiting in line for food?

Thanks Major and MB. Much appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Not to be too pedantic (or even punctilious!) but these photos were not taken in the Fritos kitchen. They were taken in the public food assembly area where customers were handed delicious chow to load onto trays after pointing and gesturing furiously at the various options (or even simply asking… with their voices).

In ’78, I went out with a River Belle gal (try saying THAT five times really quickly) for a bit and actually knew two of the pictured Fritos Foods girls through her. The youngest was indeed a minor Casual (complete with orange timecard) who could only work limited shifts and had to go home before 6:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m. in the summer).

The actual (small) Fritos kitchen was something sweepers and janitorial busboys (sweepers in bolo ties for Disney-run restaurants) knew well as most of us walked through it on our way from the nearby Custodial office to work on the westside of the park. (It was a whole ‘nother twenty yards to use the exit door next to the Shooting Gallery and who wanted to walk that far?!?)

The cooks back there did all the heavy lifting and it was a handy place to pick up a bag (or ten) of Fritos for a snack later during a break in your shift. Every meal came with a small bag of Fritos and as the Foods people weren’t allowed to take a bag that wasn’t eaten and give it to the next customer, the busboys would collect them off the tables and toss them in a container in the kitchen for anybody who felt like taking them. I have little doubt something as sensible (not to mention *free*) as trying not to waste food ended right around the time Eisner came along.

There you have it, more than anybody ever wanted to know about those little 5¢ bags of Fritos!


Nanook said...

@ Huck-
A delightful story, indeed. Thanks for sharing it.

Omnispace said...

That first pic really made me wonder about whats going on. At first thinking the taco-making girl was joined at the head with her twin brother who worked the cook line - which made for some difficult situations at times.

But then I see in the second photo that she's detached, and still listlessly working on the same taco. Was she dreaming about if she could only quit this taco job and get an audition for that daytime TV drama?

I agree that Gina is stunning at the cash register. It's hard to tell if she is just being demur with her smile or if she's truly concerned about man in the fire red Sansabelt pants.

Anonymous said...

Great insight Huck. It's those little stories that bring life to the readers who were not CMs. I can only imagine how much the 'leisurely' style of working back then has given way to the mass production techniques of today. For example, I was slicing ham and roast beef sandwich meats by hand for several hours during a day shift at Hills Bros...3 Hobart passes and then put the slices on wax paper to keep portions separated. We were supposed to use a scale first to make sure it wasn't too much! And the occasional 'screw-up' in manually slicing cheesecake into 12 pieces which meant it was free to the employees. Management caught on to that one though! KS

Melissa said...

The best thing about TacoTongs is they can double as castanets,

Awesome story, Huck!

DrGoat said...

JG, Way back in the early 70s, a friend and I used to work out at his gallery as interns (non-paid). We would paint those little cocopah girls on his greeting cards and ornaments. We were pretty good at it. Then he would come along and sign them. Instant Degrazia overpriced gewgaws. We quit after about 3 months. He was doing a lot of drinking and he got to be annoying to be around.
My uncle Charles partnered with him on a few projects. Charlie did the mosaic mural outside his gallery, but they had a falling out and never spoke to each other again. Ted was a bit jealous of some of the municipal projects my uncle got around town and my uncle was jealous of Ted's popularity (and for making so much money) on what he thought was frivolous work. They were both quite stubborn.
Ted was a larger than life pain in the backside, but everyone loved him. He did bring business to Tucson so it worked out. I do remember him taking a whole bunch of his paintings out into the desert and burning them as a protest against taxes. I do admire him for that and other things. I loved a lot of his earlier paintings. He was talented for sure and he did have a vision of things that was remarkable at times. I still go out to the gallery occasionally at look at his stuff, and his gravesite which is up there.

DrGoat said...

PS Thanks Huck. Great story. Must have been a fun time dating River Belle Gal's and all.

Major Pepperidge said...

Jonathan, long eyelashes are a symptom of taco seasoning poisoning.

DrGoat, I have never seen photos like this, so I am grateful to the Mysterious Benefactor for sharing! I would bet a fairly large sum of money that Mary Blair did indeed design that mural, but I can’t find anything online to confirm it. It just looks like her old Christmas cards and Golden Book illustrations. I can believe that Tuscon has lots of good Mexican food. I like some of our local taco stands because their food is good and more “authentic” (as far as I know). Taco tools are only issued after 12 hours of safety classes and a permit is required.

Stu29573, this is why you need to quit your job, and start wearing a sheet around the house, preferably with a tinfoil hat. Then you will REALLY be one of the GDB “top gorillas”. I wish I was in the squid farming industry (does such a thing really exist?). They are my favorite 10-armed creatures. Let’s all take a moment of silence for Thomas B. Taco.

JG, I guess somebody thought that seeing an actual metal cash register was “bad show”? I appreciate the attention to detail, though most people probably didn’t even notice. I can see a resemblance to Mary Blair’s round-headed children in that one piece by Ted DeGrazia.

Huck, thanks for the info! I sure didn’t know that there was a “kitchen” and a “public food assembly area”. It might be a little pedantic, but hey, that’s how we roll here on GDB. Where’s the fun if you can’t get into the nitty-gritty details? I am actually kind of surprised that they would hire “minor Casuals”. I thought I’d read that people applying for jobs were turned away because they were under 18, but perhaps I am mistaken. So the custodial office was somewhere inside the berm? Backstage, I assume. I’m glad that the unused bags of Fritos were used, especially by hungry young people who can eat stuff like that and not feel the consequences. I like the taste of Fritos now, but jeez, they seem so greasy! Thanks again.

Nanook, maybe Huck should write a book!

Omnispace, Disney liked to hire people with three arms and two heads. What a savings! I have to wonder if that young woman has fond memories of her days working at the park, since the job doesn’t look that much better than a shift at McDonalds. Maybe there was great esprit de corps, or she had great friends. I hope so for her sake. I’ll bet Gina has seen it all, from nice customers to creepy old men. Nothing can phase her!

KS, gosh, at first when you said you sliced the ham and roast beef by hand, I thought that you meant that you used a carving knife. Now THAT would get tedious. I’m glad they had a Hobart slicer. If each sandwich used 3 slices, you still had to weigh the meat? I’m already dreaming of bribing the maker for twice the slices of roast beef. How many slices was the cheesecake supposed to be cut into? 12 sounds normal. Now if it was 13… nobody wants “bad luck cheesecake”.

Melissa, they can be used as back scratchers too.

DrGoat, I’m going to have to look up “cocopah girls” since I have no idea what that is. Funny that Ted DeGrazia is infamous in the Tucson community. Sounds like a real character. Popular art is often “not great” (see: Thomas Kinkade), but man, those guys can make money. From what I’ve seen of your uncle’s work, he did some really beautiful stuff. And it sounds like he had a pretty great career, which is more than many artists can manage.

Anonymous said...

@Huck, thanks for the details. Comments like this are a lot of fun, putting personality to the folks in the photos. So often we speculate on the guests and subjects, it's nice to know these were real folks. Also good to know that those bags of chips didn't go to waste.

Dr. Goat, thanks for the info on DeGrazia! What a connection to him that you describe. He sounds like a regular character. My Mom found his stuff on a trip to AZ when I was in high school. She had a couple of inexpensive prints that I loathed then. They looked to me like the big-eyed kid and cat paintings that are staple decorations in cheap motels. I wish I still had them now since they remind me of her.

To be fair, at that age, I didn't like the Mary Blair murals either. Kids are stupid, I know, I was one.

Major, sometimes theming can go too far. At least cash registers were allowed and the staff didn't need to use muffin tins. I remember on my visit back after 20 years hiatus, being amazed at the wood cabinets built around the digital cash registers in the Emporium. So much effort to theme the "real world".

KS, the cheesecake story reminds me of ordering a pizza. "how many slices should we cut it into sir?" "Cut in six pieces, because I can't eat eight".


TokyoMagic! said...

JC Shannon, maybe taco-girl was born with those eyelashes, but then again, maybe it's Maybelline.

Dr. Goat, yeah....just what is that tool she is holding? It has holes in it like a cheese grater. Maybe it was for "straining" the juice off of the beans?

Anonymous said...

At Fritos, all the cooking was done in the actual kitchen (by actual Cooks!) and then Foods people would dish it out along the line (and maybe add an extra half-scoop of Spanish rice if you asked extra nicely). In the first shot you can see one of the cooks reloading the beef enchilada tray. Speaking of which, back then (and continuing now, all these many years later), I was a vegetarian and Fritos had absolutely nothing I could eat… well, *except* Fritos. But as I was a Bell man (or Wampums, if there were no Bell corn chips to be had), Fritos never really did it for me (free or not). After all, every one hundredth or so Bell corn chip was actually shaped like a bell! Come on, how great was that?!?

Yes, in the ‘70s, minors aged 16 1/2 could work at the park (within the shift restrictions I previously mentioned) but not in positions that presented any potential for danger such as ride operator, sweeper (I’m not certain what we did that was *so* perilous), landscaping, maintenance… you get the idea. So, they were pretty much stuck with Foods (food serving not cooking) or Outdoor Foods jobs. Apparently, selling balloons or popcorn was deemed non-hazardous! They could only be Casuals (not Permanent Part Time) and we mostly saw them during summers and at Christmas. It was a little bit like the swallows at Capistrano or Teamsters in overtime… you could pretty much always count on it happening.

I think I’ve previously mentioned that the Janitorial offices were behind Carnation Plaza Garden and abutted the Rainbow Caverns show building.

The variegated scoop our long-lashed gal is utilizing was for putting ground beef into the taco shells while, hopefully, leaving most of the grease behind. Oh, boy, doesn’t THAT whet the proverbial appetite?


DBenson said...

My vivid memory of Casa de Fritos is from the early 60s. They had a figure of their kid mascot in front of a diorama of a gold mine. You put a nickel in and recorded voices would shout they're a-sendin' one down th' chute out of the mine. And sure enough a little bag of Fritos came down the chute.

To this day I think more, or maybe all, vending machines should be themed.

Another memory from maybe the late 70s, when I was almost adult but still fundamentally a nerdy adolescent. I was browsing in a Main Street shop, alone and evidently unnoticed, as the two young ladies behind the counter talked. One was complaining the new uniform blouses were almost transparent, and that her supervisor suggested a camisole (which I looked up later) but she didn't like wearing them. The other laughed and said something about no breasts in Disneyland. I had to summon up my nerve to walk past them and exit, carefully avoiding seeing either lady at all and still feeling somehow guilty, and a bit of a snob for denying eye contact.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Am really enjoying all the great info and stories, today! Thank you!

TokyoMagic! said...

Huck, thanks for the info on that perforated taco tool! And thanks for all the other info today, too!

SunnieDaze21 said...

Years ago, Kevin Kidney shared a flash animation experience Jim Campbell made of the Frito Kid vending machine. I remember spending an absurd amount of time clicking on the coin and going through all the sound combinations. The original, non-virtual experience was long gone by the time I came along, so it was a real treat.

Here's the link to the flash animation (make sure to enable flash in your browser to play).

Here's the blog article I mentioned.

SunnieDaze21 said...

It also looks like the last photo in the post from May 30, 2019 shows another angle of the mural. I think the part on the right wall of that photo is what we see front and center in today's images.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, based on the few pieces of Ted DeGrazia’s work that I have seen, I can’t say I’m a big fan, but as I’ve said before, not all art is for all people. If folks like him, good for them. I can also see how people might view Mary Blair’s work as kitsch to a degree, though I disagree. I’ve never heard of people using muffin tins instead of cash registers!! Love the pizza/cheesecake joke.

TokyoMagic!, the eyelashes could be false, but I don’t know, were false eyelashes as common back then for regular girls? I know that Twiggy liked them, but she was a star. That tool with the holes might have been for straining the taco meat, even though the thought is kind of gross. Nobody wants a soggy taco!

Huck, was the kitchen for Casa de Fritos part of the same building? Now I always imagine these spaces as being impossibly cramped. Gosh, being a vegetarian now isn’t super common, I’d imagine that in 1978 you were way ahead of the curve. I don’t think I ever had a big preference for any brand of chips, they are like my children, I can’t choose between them! (I don’t have kids). Funny, seems like being a sweeper might be less hazardous than working in a kitchen, or even a public food assembly area. Maybe being a sweeper was just considered hard work that a kid couldn’t handle? I’ve always wondered, if I had been the right age when I lived in Huntington Beach, would I have ever tried for a summer job at the park? I think I would have! Thanks for reminding me about the janitorial offices, you’ve probably said that several times. What’s wrong with grease? My mom calls it “vitamin G” (she’s joking of course)!

DBenson, you are remembering something that a lot of people have only seen in photos! I wish I’d seen it. You can find the audio for Klondike and the Frito Kid on YouTube, it’s fun. I’m amazed it survived all this time. Jeez, I’m amazed that a see-through blouse would have passed any kind of review at Disneyland! Even in the late ‘70s. Having said that, I remember some young women working “Pirates”, and their costumes were pretty darn sexy!

Lou and Sue, I’m glad you’re enjoying it all!

TokyoMagic!, a perforated taco tool makes a great stocking stuffer.

SunnieDaze21, I do remember seeing that animated Frito Kid thing a long time ago. Sadly, I got a notice from Adobe today, (coincidence?!) and it recommended uninstalling Flash because it was being discontinued, which I did. It kind of makes me sad because I had to learn Flash for a job, and actually kind of enjoyed the process.

SunnieDaze21, yes, I’m glad you have a better memory than I do! I’ve seen black and white photos that show the mural better, but it’s nice to see it in color.

Melissa said...

Just popping back in to say, the discussion of the 12 slices of cheesecake reminds me of a measuring tool we used to have at the restaurants where I worked, that would measure out 10 slices on a pie instead of the usual eight that most people cut at home.