Meet The Mad Genius Who Brought Giant Churros To Disneyland
Giant churros are one of Disneyland's most underrated attractions, and we have one man to thank for bringing the wonderfully fried and sugary snacks to the theme park.
Jim Lowman, who for decades has worked in Disneyland's food and beverage department, is credited with introducing the crispy treats to Main Street U.S.A., according to the Disney Examiner. The inspiration came during the summer of 1985, while he was in charge of the restaurants in Fantasyland. Lowman was tasked with coming up with new ideas for an outdoor amphitheater called “Videopolis," a totally rad dance club for teens with huge screens showing music videos, which later became the Fantasyland Theatre.
That same year, while attending the Long Beach Grand Prix, Lowman spied with his keen eyes a small churro booth with a warming oven. Sensing that the warm, cinnamon-dusted pastry would be perfect for feeding dancing teens, Lowman then tracked down the churro-purveyor, J&J Snack Foods, to see if they would work with Disneyland. Not surprisingly, they agreed, though Lowman had one request: to Disney-size their six-inch churros. “I felt like that was just a throw away snack, like two pieces of popcorn. So I asked J&J to make them long,” Lowman told the Examiner. And so began the age of the 12-inch Disneyland churro.
Before Videopolis opened, Lowman tested the churros at various sites around the park, beginning with a cart by the exit of the Mark Twain Riverboat ride. The churros were an immediate hit, and once Videopolis opened they added two carts inside with many more around the park to follow. Initially the carts were propane-powered, which required replacement tanks throughout the day, not to mention they were potentially explosive. So, the carts soon switched to gas. Eventually Disneyland’s Outdoor Vending Team took over the churro operation, and at one point attempted to peddle dipping sauces with the crunchy snacks, but the sauces proved to be a tough sell and difficult to keep warm.
“The pure natural product of a little bit of cinnamon and a little sugar is a great product,” Loman explains. Indeed it is.
We also have Loman to thank for bringing the smoky, grilled skewers of meat and veggies to Bengal Barbecue near the Indiana Jones Adventure ride, including the bacon-wrapped asparagus.
Loman is halfway through his 50th year at Disneyland, and currently works as manager of the Plaza Inn Complex. He's thinking about retiring next year, though he hopes to leave his mark by introducing another treat before he leaves. We can only hope it's as good as a warm churro.
[h/t: Eater LA]