A lot of folks roll their eyes at the glut of imaginary food-related holidays (happy iced tea month!) but the backstory behind Friday’s National Donut Day is pretty great. During World War I, a Salvation Army volunteer in France used a wine bottle to roll out some dough, stoked a wood fire, and fried up a batch of twist donuts for American soldiers. The “doughnut girls” made a holiday out of it, which still raises money for the Salvation Army.
On Friday, Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, and most thrillingly, Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood are giving away free donut holes and putting out the charity jar. If you leave the giant donut-shaped stand (Randy’s is just one of at least ten big donuts around town) hungry for more buildings and signs shaped like things you can eat, we’ve got you covered. Los Angeles has always been known for encouraging the fantastic, and we have the most delicious collection of programmatic architecture. Skip the drive-thru and enjoy our giant food tour of culinary landmarks.
17025 Bellflower Blvd.
A cousin of the giant donuts, this big baked good is speared on a metal pole in front of a tiny bagel shop.
Bono’s Historic Orange
15395 E. Foothill Blvd.
When Route 66 was roaring with roadside attractions, a giant orange was the perfect way to grab your attention and get you to pull over for a juice.
Carnitas Michoacan #3
741 S. Soto St.
Look for the giant rooftop burger at this 24-hour restaurant, then step inside for vintage arcade games and a vending machine with cookies.
Charley’s Hair Salon
6417 Whittier Blvd.
East Los Angeles
The biggest stucco tamale you’ve ever seen has been parked on Whittier Boulevard for about 90 years. No tamales here, it’s now a beauty parlor.
5558 N. Figueroa St.
Owners of the roadside sculpture, built in 1969, have called the half-man/half-chicken food mascot holding a bucket of chicken the “Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles.”
2230 E. Florence Ave.
This enormous bowl survived the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, but had an ominous construction fence around it the last time I drove by.
Coca-Cola Bottling Company
1414 S. Central Ave.
A collection of warehouses was remodeled into a sleek ocean liner in 1936. Stucco versions of the famous “contour” bottle anchor the north and south ends.
Di Dio’s Italian Ice
1305 Montana Ave.
A big cherry ice hovers precariously above the entrance. Don’t let it drip on you.
Hot Cha Café
957 4th St.
A metal coffee percolator has been perched atop this café since 1932, although this year it has been modified into… well, not really a coffee percolator anymore.
4824 Vineland Ave.
This big beer keg sat dilapidated for 30 years until it was restored as a bar and grill last February.
1123 N. La Brea Ave.
Fries and a large drink mark the entrance to this McDonald’s, and a neon replica of the company’s first mascot Speedee marks the exit.
Patio Burgers and Beer
4541 Eagle Rock Blvd.
A tiny burger joint modeled on the type of lunch bucket carried by factory workers a hundred years ago.
715 S. Soto St.
A double cheeseburger at Sam’s Tacos will set you back $5.55. A visit to see the oversized plastic version on the roof is free – and it comes with fiberglass fries, a drink, and some jungle animals.
3450 Overland Ave.
This big hot dog hovering outside a 7-11 originally sat atop Red’s Hot Dogs at Hollywood and Western.
5231 Lankershim Blvd.
An enormous dog with relish, onions, and a side of fries hovers above the entrance to this fast food joint.