ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A fast-food burrito chain in Albuquerque has become an attraction for tourists from all over the world eager to see the spot where a fictional drug trafficker runs his organization. A pastry shop sells doughnuts topped with blue candy designed to resemble crystal meth. A beauty store sells crystal blue bathing salts.
As "Breaking Bad" finishes filming its fifth and final season in Albuquerque, the popularity of the show is providing a boost to the economy and creating a dilemma for local tourism officials walking a fine line - profiting from a show about drug trafficking, addiction and violence. "Breaking Bad" follows the fictional character Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher turned meth lord.
Albuquerque has seen a jump in tourists visiting popular sites from the show. Tourists are also flocking to sites that were once unknown: the suburban home of White, played by Bryan Cranston; a car wash that is a front for a money-laundering operation on the series; a rundown motel used frequently for filming; and the burrito joint that's a fast food chicken restaurant on the show. The Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau has even created a website of the show's most popular places around town, and ABQ Trolley Company sold out all its "BaD" tours last year at $60 a ticket.
"They ask if they can take pictures. They ask if Gus is here," said Rachel Johnson, 19, a shift manager at the Twisters burrito restaurant in Albuquerque's South Valley, referring to the show's character Gus Fring, played by actor Giancarlo Esposito. The eatery has served as the location for the "Los Pollos Hermanos" restaurant where Fring runs his drug operation.
Other popular shows over the past decade like "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos" have generated tours and widespread interest in the filming locations, but "Breaking Bad" has seen a unique twist with drug-themed products springing up around Albuquerque.
Debbie Ball, owner of The Candy Lady store, recently capitalized on the show's popularity by selling blue "Breaking Bad" meth treats - sugar rock candy that looks like the meth sold on the show. Ball provided her candy as props of the show in the first two seasons and said she has sold 20,000 bags of the stuff at $1 apiece. She also launched her own "Breaking Bad" limo tours this year with a driver dressed as Walter White.
"The show is amazing," said Ball. "I don't live too far from Walter White's house."
A pastry shop called the Rebel Donut has among its specialties "Blue Sky" Breaking Bad doughnuts, pieces decorated with blue rock candy. And the Great Face & Body shop recently developed a new line of blue bath salts called "Bathing Bad." (It's actually bath salt used to bathe, not the street drug also known as "bath salt.")