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O.C. Answer Man: I vaguely remember a restaurant sign with the Carl’s Jr. Happy...

True. In 1972, Orange County hamburger king Carl Karcher started a Mexican fast-food chain called Taco de Carlos. Menu items included California Burritos (chimichangas),...

OC Answer Man: Other than the library, where can I get my ‘Lord of...

To visit Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and their friends, just take Ring Road to Middle Earth—at UC Irvine. In 1974, students voted to name the...

OC Answer Man: What’s With the Wild Mustard All Over Orange County?

This non-native invader didn’t arrive the way legend suggests. According to lore, a Spanish friar, traveling between the missions, planted mustard seeds along the...

Is Tomato Springs a Real Place?

Tomato Springs is tiny but legendary. In 1769, Father Francisco Gomez of the Portola expedition—the first Europeans in California—discovered a source of fresh water...

O.C. Answer Man: Do walnut trees grow well in O.C.?

Like gangbusters, and our seemingly citrus-centric county once was among America’s biggest walnut-producing regions. (At various times, the county was a leading producer of...

O.C. Answer Man: Other than Disneyland, does Orange County have any Star Wars connections?

The signature scar on Han Solo’s chin came from Laguna Beach. In 1964, actor Harrison Ford had an apartment in the hills above Laguna Canyon...

O.C. Answer Man: When Was Orange County’s First Jail Built?

Which jewelry store, which still stands on E. Fourth Street in Santa Ana, rented its basement for this purpose?

O.C. Answer Man: How did Cypress get its name?

The town took its moniker from the Cypress School District—founded in 1896—which, according to historian Phil Brigandi, was named for the then-popular ornamental tree. But Cypress easily could have ended up with another name. In the early years, some called it Waterville, highlighting the area’s many artesian wells.

O.C. Answer Man: Who was Irvine’s Culver Drive named for?

What's the history behind this increasingly busy and crowded road that runs through central Irvine?

O.C.’s Saturated Food-Truck Market

Q: Any advice on how to stand out in O.C.’s saturated food-truck market? A: The gourmet food truck craze gets several things right: clean trucks, friendly service, changing menus, and quality ingredients. Stick to those. But fusion and freak-show cuisine has been done to death. (Who thought Asian tacos would so quickly go from novelty to cliche?) Surprise everyone by making well-executed versions of foods everyone loves. For instance, if you’re going to make pizza, don’t make a tofu faux-pork-belly pizza with Assyrian woodchuck cheese, seaweed, and kumquat sauce on a wheatless crust. Just make the best possible version of the traditional kind.