Architecture and Design, Voices

My L.A.: Learning to Love Baskin-Robbins

Continuing this week’s Getty Voices theme of Our L.A., Getty Research Institute editor Liz McDermott explores what makes a hot-pink-and-blue box on Victory Boulevard such a community draw. It’s vernacular architecture at its most highly sweetened.

Burbank Baskin-Robbins ice cream store

Great architecture? Perhaps not. Community hub? Definitely.

Until I moved to Burbank a few years ago, I thought Baskin-Robbins was a relic from a bygone era, like Tower Records or Borders bookstores. When I was 12 years old, Baskin-Robbins was one of my top destination spots. My friends and I would ride our bikes to the local mall and crowd into the tiny store. I’d always order the same thing, a scoop of Pralines ‘n Cream, my favorite of the 31 flavors. That flavor was the perfect blend of cream, sugar, gooey caramel, crunchy candy pralines, and just overall goodness. I had assumed Baskin-Robbins was long gone, done in by Scoops, Gelato Bar, L.A. Creamery, and the proliferation of trendy, artisanal ice-cream shops.

But lo and behold, on a long stretch of Victory Boulevard, near a spate of quiet residential streets, sits what must be the largest Baskin-Robbins ever. To put it kindly, the architecture is completely unremarkable—it’s a two-story, plain stucco box with a bright pink awning over the entrance. But it boasts over 40 parking spaces, cement picnic tables with hot-pink umbrellas, a drive-through with a gigantic neon sign spelling out all the flavors, and even a poster out front that announces that it’s a training center for budding ice-cream servers.

After months of driving past that behometh, nondescript building, I finally decided to check it out. Nearly every parking space was filled, the drive-through was six cars deep, and it was shoulder-to-shoulder inside. But then I saw it in a big tub under the glass counter: Pralines ‘n Cream. I bought a scoop and it all came back to me. It’s not the sophistication of lavender or basil and lime (two flavors from one of artisanal ice-cream shops over the hill), but it tasted just as fantastic as I remembered. Now when I drive past and see the enthusiastic crowds that still show up, I totally understand why.

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.

      08/03/15

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