New Book, Made in California, Takes Readers on a Delightful Journey of the Restaurants and Diners That Became American Icons

A&W Root Beer. Foster’s Freeze. IHOP. Der Wienerschnitzel. See’s Candy. Jack in the Box. You name the American food icon, and chances are its roots are in California. But what are their origin stories? Who started the very first branch? Where were the original buildings? What made them famous? And for the few that are no longer around, or that have a smaller footprint than they had in their glory days, what happened to them?

Food historian and chef George Geary answers these questions and more as he takes readers on a sentimental journey of some of America’s most iconic foods in his new book, Made in California: The Burger Joints, Diners, Fast Food & Restaurants that Changed America. 


Geary tells the remarkable stories of the early 20th-century food startups that captured America’s hearts and stomachs, from Bob’s Big Boy to McDonald’s, Winchell’s Donuts to In-N-Out, Peet’s Coffee to Taco Bell. Filled with over 200 historic and contemporary photos, Geary succinctly captures the stories of these essential businesses and structures before they are gone forever.

“In my earlier years as a food writer and professional, I would never have admitted to anyone that I actually eat at these establishments,” Geary says. “But after seeing Julia Child eat McDonald’s French fries in person and say that they were her favorite, and after hearing Anthony Bourdain claim that In-N-Out Burger was the best burger around, I knew that I, too, could come out of my kitchen and into the drive-thru. Now I get to celebrate these places in this book.”

Made in California covers such iconic food establishments such as:

  • Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
  • The Brown Derby
  • The International House of Pancakes (IHOP)
  • See’s Candies
  • Orange Julius
  • Marie Callender Pie Shop (Marie Callender’s)
  • The Blimp (Carl’s Jr.)
  • Hamburger Hamlet
  • Burt’s/Snowbird Ice Cream (Baskin-Robbins)
  • Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery (Van de Kamp’s)
  • And many, many more

“In Made in California, George cranks back the time machine to reveal the local origins of foods known around the world and various restaurants, like the McDonald’s cheeseburger or the all-night menu at Denny’s, as well as classics like the Double Cream Lemon Pie at Marie Callender’s, which have remained only-in-California favorites. We find out how the International House of Pancakes went from one modest coffee shop in Burbank to serving up flapjacks from Guatemala to Kuwait.”

Chris Nichols, senior editor at Los Angeles magazine

“This delicious book serves up more than a feast of information—it’s food for the soul of anyone who is hungry for the back stories and glories of California’s classic cuisine, iconic kitchens, famous flavors, and tastiest landmarks.”

— Charles Phoenix, author of Addicted to Americana and Holiday Jubilee


George Geary is an award-winning chef, best-selling author, and renowned educator. A former pastry chef for the Walt Disney Company, George is a Certified Culinary Professional and was awarded as the Culinary Educator of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is perhaps best known for creating all the cheesecakes for The Golden Girls and other top-rated television programs.

George served as a casting judge for ABC’s The Taste with Anthony Bourdain, The American Baking Competition with Jeff Foxworthy, Hell’s Kitchen, Supermarket Superstar, and many other popular television food shows.

For over thirty years, Geary has been a culinary contest judge for such major food restaurants and manufacturers as Canola Producers, Veg-All, Hormel Foods, the Hershey Company, Knott’s Berry Farm Foods, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Fleischmann’s Yeast, the San Diego Union Tribune, ABC News, and many more. From 1982 to 2010, George was the culinary coordinator of the Los Angeles County Fair. He was also a popular guest chef on board the Holland America Line’s ships, sailing to over 118 countries and every continent.

George is the author of L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants, Fair Foods: The Most Popular and Offbeat Recipes from America’s State & County Fairs, as well as eleven cookbooks including The Cheesecake Bible, The Complete Baking Cookbook, and 500 Best Sauces, Salad Dressings, Marinades & More.  He is a frequent guest on national and local television and lives in the Greater Los Angeles area. For more information visit his website,