Check out Licorice Pizza, the SoCal record store that inspired PTA

Mafalda Costa September 28, 2021
Check out Licorice Pizza, the SoCal record store that inspired PTA

On Monday, 28 September, the first trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie Licorice Pizza was finally released. The movie follows a pair of 1970s high school students from the San Fernando Valley – all against the backdrop of Hollywood and making it big. Check out Licorice Pizza, the SoCal record store that inspired PTA.

Screenshot of Licorice Pizza trailer on Youtube.

SoCal Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza is the name of a long-gone chain of LA record shops founded in Long Beach by James Greenwood in 1969.

By the time the Glendale-based chain was sold in 1985 to Sam Goody, there were 34 locations in Southern California, including Canoga Park, North Hollywood, Reseda, and the Sherman Oaks Galleria

According to Los Angeles Magazine, their logo, featuring a depression-era cook proud of her freshly baked record album, was plastered all over the streets of LA and is currently a top-selling T-shirt at the Valley Relics Museum.

The store tried to lure local music fans with commercials aired during American Bandstand and Soul Train.

They offered a money-back guarantee on records and heavily promoted local concerts, drawing fans in to buy the music before or after a big concert.

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As one fan reminisced on Facebook, “some referred to it as the alternative to Tower Records”.

They added: “I bought a lot of albums here and got free licorice!”

What does Licorice Pizza mean?

Some say the term was first coined by Abbott and Costello in a comedy routine where they attempt to sell some vinyl records, to no avail. 

At some point in the bit, one of them says, “Well, we could sprinkle cornstarch on the bottom and sell them as licorice pizzas.”

Others believe that Licorice Pizza comes from a throwaway joke on the album Bud & Travis…In Concert recorded live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1960.

Apparently, the comedy/folk duo are on a self-deprecating roll about how unsuccessful their record was and crooned about adorning their records with sesame seeds, thus selling them as “licorice pizzas,” as the shiny black vinyl bears a resemblance to the sweet, chewy candy.

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So the term directly refers to a funny reference with some significant comedic history, but it also holds a special place in the hearts of Southern California record store enthusiasts.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming movie

On Monday, 28 September, the first trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread, There Will Be Blood)’s new movie Licorice Pizza was finally released.

According to Pitchfork, the film stars Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman (the son of Anderson favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman), as well as Bradley Cooper, Tom Waits, Sean Penn, and Benny Safdie.

Licorice Pizza | Official Trailer | MGM Studios

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Licorice Pizza | Official Trailer | MGM Studios
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The movie follows a pair of 1970s high school students from the San Fernando Valley – one of whom is a successful child actor.

As the trailer shows, the throwback movie leans into life in the L.A. suburb and showcases the minutiae of growing up there – all against the backdrop of Hollywood and making it big.

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Licorice Pizza will get a limited release on 26 November and expand worldwide in December 2021.

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Mafalda Costa is a second year BA Journalism student originally from Portugal. Her main passions if life are music, arts and culture, while she's particularly knowledgable on cinema and anime.