Losanjealous Freezer Section: L.A. Minis
As both self-appointed arbiters of all things L.A. and freezer section frequenters, we were on a collision course for a reckoning with L.A. Minis. And, last week, collide we did.
Ostensibly conceived as a left coast take on the fabled White Castle “slyder” steamed miniature burgers, L.A. Minis are, in fact, miniature cheeseburgers, that come four to a box. “Cheeseburger minis,” if you will. From the box copy:
You may have already enjoyed “Minis” at your favorite restaurant. Be it fast food or white tablecloth, everyone loves “Minis”. We love Minis too, but wanted more varieties than just cheeseburgers. That’s why we created L.A. Minis. Cheeseburger, Chicken with cheese, Barbeque beef and Sloppy Joe with cheese. Four great American favorites on our delicious little buns!
The L.A. Minis Family
Getting past that possible sexual innuendo and the headscratcher that since they A) wanted more than “just cheeseburgers,” they B) went ahead and started their mini line up with in fact cheeseburgers, let’s move on to the presentation.
The box has a familiar ’SC Trojan/McDonald’s ketchup & mustard color scheme with “L.A. Minis” in a fluid half-cursive font, and a Microsoft Word 95 clip-art logo of a pair of palm trees on a patch of sand, no doubt signifying our beaches and corresponding general laid back style.
While the coinage of “minis” as a food term–as opposed to, say, a small English-made car–does have a nice ring to it, it is curious they didn’t use the trendy bistro term “sliders”–an name popular enough to merit its own discussion on Chowhound. (White Castle trademarked “slyders” with a “y” but the term for small sandwiches has caught on. Maybe they are steering clear of any possible infringement?)
Shucking the packaging, we move onto the minis themselves.
The upshot: L.A. Minis may well be about the single saddest food-like items I have ever put on a plate, microwaved for three-quarters of a minute and choked down. The burgers come cellophane sheathed in pairs, the buns attached like two gametes aborted and flash frozen before forming a zygote. The internal parts, the bovine derivates, theoretically meat and cheese, while giving the suggestion thereof, barely qualify for a definition as food (“foodstuffs” perhaps) and protrude from the buns like sickly tongues. I honestly don’t remember what they tasted like. I remember the textures and temperature, but am hard pressed to describe the flavors. These cheeseburger simulacra, however, might make for decent astronaut food aboard space stations.
It saddens me to report, that as the only brand in the entire freezer section containing a reference to our fair city, there is nothing “L.A.” about “L.A. Minis.” As a rough comparison, say, when you’re watching That’s So Raven on the Disney Channel, you will in fact frequently find yourself saying aloud, “That’s so Raven!” as you take in Raven’s hilarious antics. (I’m recalling one hilarious moment right now, and thinking to myself “That’s so Raven!”) But, in contrast, while eating L.A. Minis, alas one will not find oneself saying, “This (cheeseburger mini) is so… L.A.!”
Which brings us to a curious crossroads. For you see, the “L.A.” in “L.A. Minis” is in fact no where explicated on the packaging to be an abbreviation for “Los Angeles.” Whether this is an oversight or a conscious decision, I do not know. Clearly, they are at the very least leading us towards that interpretation with the use of the palm tree/beach graphic, but the “L.A.” may well be the initials of the founder of L.A Minis.
There are probably a few heavy handed metaphors for disappointment to be invoked here, about how the L.A. version of a N.Y. product pales; or, about how an interior reality fails to live up to even the mediocrity of the exterior promises. But these aren’t necessary. They just aren’t worth the effort. Stick with Hot Pockets.