On a recent visit to DCA, something caught my eye. In between Buena Vista Street and the Grizzly Peak Airfield, there's a Churro cart called Willie's Churros (evidently a tribute to the first Mickey Mouse cartoon). As I've been spending a lot of time in Culver City lately for work, I immediately recognized this as a replica of the famous Helms Bakery trucks that once puttered around Los Angeles.
All the iconic details are there, from the shield crest logo on the side, to the "W" in a familiar font on the back. The cart's slogan, "Delivered Daily!" is even reminiscent of Helms' "Daily at Your Door".
Helms Bakery had a relatively brief, but memorable existence in Culver City. From 1931 to 1969, the iconic blue and yellow trucks delivered all sorts of baked goods to homes around Los Angeles. The company's founder, Paul Helms, went to great lengths to promote his enterprise--including supplying bread to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, thus coining Helms' catchphrases, "Helms Olympic Bread", and "Olympic Games Bakers - Choice of Olympic Champions". Helms Bakery continued to provide bread for the Olympics for years to come.
Helms even supplied bread for the crew of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, in a last-ditch publicity effort to save his company--and to become the first bread on the moon. But sadly, Helms could not compete with the rise of supermarkets, and his once-convenient delivery trucks were out of style.
Thankfully, you can still visit the sprawling bakery--or what once was the bakery--today. It's mostly just furniture shops and some pretty good restaurants, but it's a neatly preserved look back on an important part of LA's past.