The ‘Arrested Development’ Banana Stand Is Based on Mitch Hurwitz’s Childhood Cookie Stand
It turns out one of the most memorable parts of Arrested Development – the Bluth family banana stand – is based on something from creator Mitch Hurwitz’s real life. Hurwitz tells Los Angeles magazine that when he was a tween in 1976, his father bought him and his brother a stand in Newport Beach called The Chipyard where they could sell their homemade cookies.
Here’s Hurwitz telling the story behind The Chipyard:
We were going to sell cookies off a cardboard table in our front yard, but my father put up the money for us to run a little stand on Balboa Boulevard. We had no idea what we were getting into. We sold about 20 cookies the first day, 30 cookies the next day and around mid-summer a guy from the LA Times came down. He asked to speak to the owners, and I said, “We are the owners.” He did an article about us, and the next day we sold 6,000 cookies. It was going to be a lesson in how tough it is to earn a buck for the kids, but it turned into a valuable revenue stream.
It created so much discord in the family. There was a divorce scenario playing out; it was a loaded time. My father, who’s a hilarious guy, coined the phrase “The family that works together hates each other.” He said to me, “You ought to write a play about this.” I was pretty sure I wanted to be a writer, and I told him, “No, dad. That’s impossible. You can’t write a play without conflict.” I remember him screaming with laughter as he left the Chipyard. It was an insane period of time.
My brother and I ended up slaves to that place. The idea of wearing a silly little outfit and standing inside a very cramped space and having to work while all your friends are at the beach all summer, that inspired the frozen banana stand on the show. One guy actually threatened to firebomb [the Chipyard]. I remember my brother saying, “If you feel strongly, maybe you should explore that.” Really. We wanted out.
When I showed my brother, who’s now a surgeon, a rough cut of the second episode of [Arrested Development] where George Michael burns down the banana stand, he said, “Oh, my god you burned down the Chipyard!” I was very excited about that. It was a great expiation for both of us.