Community college, credit cards, burgers among Fresno’s firsts
Those following Los Angeles food trends no doubt noticed the nostalgically charged “Good Burger” pop-up that opened in West Hollywood on Wednesday. The restaurant is based on a fictionalized eatery from the ’90s Nikelodeon show “All That” as a promo for the show’s upcoming reboot.
Of course, followers of the Fresno Grizzlies will remember when the team created its own “Good Burger” pop up back in 2016. It commemorated the 20th anniversary of the movie spin-off and featured special food and jerseys and a visit from “All That” star Kel Mitchell.
Sam Hansen, the Grizzlies’ marketing manager and idea man, has a history of being ahead of the curve on these kind of things. He was also part of the Tupac-inspired Powamekka Cafe pop-up, which opened in Fresno a full six months before someone did it in New York City.
Also, he was talking about the viability of a county/rap music hybrid long before Lil Nas X.
This isn’t the first time Fresno has been historically ahead of the curve. Here are five other times Fresno beat the trends.
It should be obvious from the architecture that Fresno City College is one of the oldest institutions in the city. But the school existed for a full halfcentury before it moved to its current location on University Avenue back in 1956. The college was actually founded in 1910 and was the first community college in California.
It was the second in the nation.
When the eight-story T.W. Patterson Building replaced the chiller system on its air conditioning in 2015, it became a case study for the company that installed the system.
It was fitting given the building’s history as the first multi-story building in the U.S. to have an air conditioning system installed. The original system was installed by the Carrier Company in 1926. Prior to that, the system had only been seen in department stores and movie theaters in big cities like Los Angeles and New York.
FAST FOOD NATION
For good or bad, Fresno seems to have an infatuation with drive-thru
chains (see the continued expansion of Dutch Bros. in the area). One could argue that traces back to 1955, when Fresno got its first McDonald’s.
The restaurant opened on Blackstone Avenue near Shields Avenue and was one of the first of Ray Kroc’s franchise locations (Kroc is the guy who made McDonald’s a global powerhouse).
The Fresno location was run by Art Bender, who is credited with selling McDonald’s first hamburger while working for the McDonald brothers at a burger stand in San Bernardino in 1948.
Bender went on to own seven McDonald’s in Fresno, according to his obituary in The Fresno Bee.
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
The film “Breakin’ ” was released in 1984, followed by its sequel “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” later that year.
That’s five years after The Electric Boogaloos were featured on “Soul Train.” The dance group featured Fresno’s Solomon brothers (Sammy and Timothy). Sammy was known as “Boogaloo Sam.”
Timothy was “Popin’ Pete” and is widely credited with creating and popularized the body jerking robotic dance style that came to be known as poppin’.
WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?
When Bank of America introduced its new credit card program in 1958, it didn’t make much news. The Fresno Bee mentioned it on an inside page between the business briefs and the livestock report, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Of course, it was of local interest.
The bank issued 60,000 credit cards (in the mail and totally unsolicited) to Fresno residents as a kind of mass experiment. While other, smaller banks had attempted credit cards, the so-called BankAmericard (later Visa) would revolutionized consumer credit.
The original 1926 Carrier Corp. air conditioning system is seen in the T.W. Patterson Building.