Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday on Thursday!--Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakers, Los Angeles, CA

Van de Kamp's was founded in 1915 by Theodore Van de Kamp and Lawrence L. Frank, beginning as a potato chip stand in downtown Los Angeles. In 1921 the first retail bakery store opened in a building designed in the shape of a windmill. Since this old postcard depicts "Windmill Store No. 1" it is fairly safe to assume that this is that first retail bakery store.

The best article I found about Van de Kamp's was published on July 17, 2005, in the Los Angeles Times. Titled Windmills and Pastry: A Sweet Old Family Recipe, if you find the old postcard fascinating and want to know more I recommend reading the three-page article. For those without time or inclination to do so, here are some key paragraphs:
Its blue windmills swirled like giant propellers over a chain of bakeries, coffee shops and a drive-in as the sweet aroma of freshly baked pastries wafted over the city. For more than three-quarters of a century, Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakery fused Old World recipes with New World commerce, helping to create the neighborhood known as the city's breadbasket. All that remains of the giant landmark in Glassell Park are its quaint two-story facade and two smaller buildings, squeezed between the Glendale Freeway and Metrolink tracks. Built in 1931 to evoke a gargantuan 16th century Dutch town house, the facade stands as a tribute to pioneers in the Southern California food industry. . .

. . . Hailed as the "Taj Mahal of bakeries," Van de Kamp's was founded in 1915 by Theodore Van de Kamp and Lawrence L. Frank, uncles of former California Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp. They parlayed a $200 investment and one product -- potato chips -- into a fragrant food empire. . .

. . . Lawrence Frank's future bride, Henrietta "Nettie" Van de Kamp, whose family also hailed from Milwaukee, followed him west; they married in 1913. . .

. . . Nettie's brother, Theodore, arrived for a visit a couple of years later, looking for a business opportunity. Hitting on the idea of selling the chips that Ralph Frank made, the brothers-in-law formed a partnership. Using the Van de Kamp name, they opened their first store Jan. 6, 1915. . .

Frank had reasoned that the name would be memorable and its Dutch heritage would connote cleanliness and freshness. They underlined that idea with their motto: "Made Clean, Kept Clean, Sold Clean.". . .

. . . In 1921, Van de Kamp's set up the first of its little prefab Dutch windmills in a lot near Beverly Boulevard and Western Avenue. There, they sold cakes, pies and Danishes, a list that eventually included 140 products. . .

. . . Van de Kamp's windmills were designed to catch the eye of passing motorists in what was becoming a car culture. The theme bakeries continued to multiply across the Southland and along the Washington and Oregon coasts. . .

. . . Just one of the familiar windmills survives. Now stationary and green rather than blue, it adorns a Denny's in Arcadia.

The article gives information about the planned use for the saved facade of the headquarters building that recently changed. The plans for this building have run an interesting course that you can follow, if you choose, below:

[The Van de Kamp's brand is now owned by Pinnacle Food Group LLC that says, "Today, the Van de Kamp’s tradition lives on, as we continue to make great-tasting, convenient and affordable seafood for a family dinner everyone can enjoy."]

Old Van de Kamp's Bakery recipes courtesy of Uncle Phaedrus, Consulting Detective and Finder of Lost Recipes

Van de Kamp's Bakery

photo via Flickr



Rhiannon said...

Wow does this bring memories back to me...Lydia it's very late at night and this post is making my mouth water!

Makes me sigh and remember a fond memory as a child. A yellowish beige large station wagon kind of car truck deal called the "Helms bakery truck" used to drive by our neighborhood every weekend in the morning. He would toot his special horn as he drove down the streets..and we would run out with our change, he would get out and open the double doors,pull out these drawers and we would ooh and ah at the delicious display of all kinds of sweet pastry and donuts. Now those were the days where when you said "I want a glazed donut" he got out one for you and it tasted like and was the real thing!

I also remember the orginal Bob's big boy hamburger restaurant. We used to go there all the time. It was so much fun seeing the "big boy" holding up that hamburger when we arrived. Would you be able to look up some history on Bob's Big Boy restaurant and how that one got started and if it's still around at all? That would be fun.

Hope your doing well. The Joan Baez concert sounded like you all had a great time. I was surprised that she wasn't into "Reminiscing" about the memory of Woodstock. My favorite is the poetic and "old soul" of Melanie Safka. I think I have just about all of her old album collections..and she is still around and was on Cnn the other nite talking about Woodstock. She sang "Beautiful People" there but I never saw her filmed in any of the Woodstock stuff...nor the's as if she was never saw. She later wrote and sang "Candles in the Rain" about Woodstock and her experience. I love how she talks about it before she starts singing the song "to be there was to remember so lay it down lay it down again, Maer Bubba lives again, candles in the rain"...sorry about all my typos and spelling here it's too late..but reading your recent post here really stirred up some great thank you so much.

Love and Blessings and "Love and Peace for the whole world".


Now let's not forget the popsicle truck either! Remember those red, white and blue one? The rocket popsicles? I think that's what they were called.

the watercats said...

I love this postcard! It's amazing how enterprise takes off from such tiny beginnings. How exciting must it have been for those first business people! The whole of society, almost to themselves...

Kim said...

Huh. I'll be damned. I had no idea Van De Kamps started that way. Another great old postcard and story!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I went to Holland twice during the 1980s - aroune 1981 and 1983ish and the place is full of windmills that look just like this, only without the person in traditional costume. As usual i am in awe of the amount of time and research in this post - a really interesting piece.

In respect of which i offer you the below link to one of the UKs most famous windmills - possibly unique in design in the world

Lydia said...

@Rhi- I always enjoy your rich memories, especially when they contain things/events that I didn't experience. The bakery truck sounds wonderful; I never knew of such a thing! (Apple Fritters are my downfall in the pastry world.) We also didn't have ice cream carts when I was a kid. It wasn't until I moved here to Silverton that I saw one, and they were around in the summer as recently as eight years ago but no longer...
As soon as I read your comments about Melanie I thought "Brand New Key" as I loved that song. But I never knew her last name and don't think I ever heard anything else by her. Didn't know she was at Woodstock, either. You have such an interesting appreciation for lesser-known musicians; I always learn something from you!
Yes, I remember the big Bob's sign because there was one in Reno. I'm not sure they were ever in Oregon. Hadn't thought of that chain for years!

@the watercats- Wow. I have never thought of early business in quite that manner until reading your comment. Fascinating thought!

@Pixies- Thanks for your words of appreciation.
I'd love to see Holland some day, but really that windmill you linked to here is the best one I can imagine seeing in person! 350 years old and so beautiful. I really enjoyed reading about it and learning that there is a similar copy in RI here. Also, I was unaware of the term "sails" regarding the parts that turn, but that sure makes sense to me.

Lydia said...

@Kim- Love your "huh.I'll be damned" and now I can use it in return...

Huh. I'll be damned. I missed replying to your fun comment with the others above, and I am sorry and it's always a treat to have you here. :)

TattingChic said...

Your postcards are very nice! I have a postcard from a blogging friend that I went ahead and posted it today, too. I hope Marie gets better soon! I miss her PFF posts and having links to all the others to visit, too!
Happy Postcard Friendship Friday!
~TattingChic ♥

Nancy said...

Very interesting. I always think of pork and beans when I hear the name. And potato chips was the first product. I like the little windmill building and remember seeing them on the coast.

Rhiannon said...

Lydia, in reference to your comments about Melanie..she has never left! Always been around all these years. She continues to write, do albums cd (she has tons of them)She is vastly popular in Europe (always has been) and has a "HUGE" fan following in the U.S.through all these years. Her songs, lyrics, poetic old soul has touched the hearts of many. I must admit I never liked brand new key it was not a very deep song and very "light" pop for Melanie. Not like most of her singing style at all. She is a very deep soul and most of her song are incredibly "deep" nothing like brand new key which she sings in her higher voice. Her voice range is incredible if you check out some of her songs from the late 60's and 70's you will find "Treasure". All you have to do is type in and click "Melanie" on youtube (or on google)and you will find mass amounts of her songs, so many it's like an encyclopedia! It goes on forever. just like her.

She is not an unknown but I do know that many haven't known about her but when I and others get people to listen to some of her great songs they are like "OMG who is she? what a voice and those lyrics"!!

I hope you will look into listening to some of Melanie's songs from the late 60's to mid 70's (her best)and on up to "now"..she is a poet..indeed and her voice range is incredible. She also does a wonderful version of Bob Dylans "Mr tamborine man" and Bob told her years ago when he first heard it he loved it better than his original or anyone elses. She makes it her song and changes it.

Songs by her you might like below. Try to check out the original versions from the original albums on youtube..going way back rather than recent live concert versions.
You might not chose to do this but just in case your curious to know of the "unknown" Melanie..she is so known..all over the world..if not I just thought I'd get you thinking out of the "Box"..:o)because I know your out there too...well you know what I mean.

Here's a few songs I love you might want to check out.

close to it all
Peace will come
I really loved Harold
For my father
Any guy
I am not a poet
I believe in the secret of the darkness

well it goes on and on..oh my gosh you got me started didn't you?..ha ha...sorry about that..

Have a nice's finally cooler here now in the evenings..thank goodness..


Lydia said...

@TattingChic- Happy Pff to you and thanks for helping to keep Marie's idea going while she isn't there. I really enjoyed visiting your blog today. :)

@Nancy- Yes, the last thing I thought of when I saw the name was baked goods. There's a recipe for some kind of salt bread that was much loved that sounds, um...interesting!

@Rhi- I will check out some of your suggestions, most definitely. You are such a devoted fan you'd make a great agent! I'm not kidding. :)

Mariana Soffer said...

Hi, I like the old aesthetic indeed, not at all the new one, but is is so interesting the history of how common consumer products became what they are nowadays, I found it fascinating, I saw a documentary about the fight between the potato chips companies in america near the 50 ties it was crazy, there are great books that research the storie of how those products became mainstream, and what strategy did they use that made them win to some companies, there are fascinating indeed, I can not remember any name now, but If I do I will let you know about those histories, I can only remember the telecomunication history books I have been reading.

Take care my good friend.

Lydia said...

@Mariana- Yes, please do let me know if you think of the names, as I'd be interested to take a look.
Telecommunication history books...that's a fascinating topic. Sunday night in the U.S. on "60 Minutes" they are to do a special program honoring its founder, Don Hewitt. He was just one piece in all that, but a major one for broadcast news. I wonder if you get that program there?...

mlaiuppa said...

It's a shame the Van de Kamp family can't publish a cookbook of their family's vintage recipes.

While the business was sold, it's my understanding that many of the recipes the bakery is known for are not being produced and without a cookbook of some kind will be lost to time.

Many Southern Californians remember these delights. The few recipes recreated for Uncle Phaedrus just aren't enough.

I'd love for someone in the Van de Kamp family or anyone that used to work there to publish their recipes before they are lost forever.

Lydia said...

mlaiuppa~ I apologize for taking so long in replying to your comment. I was delighted to read your thoughts and really appreciate you taking the time to comment. It seems you have great memories of Van de Kamp tastes and delights that are quickly disappearing. I agree with you that it would be wonderful if the family would help to preserve this flavor of Americana.



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