Charles Hodgkins

Published Writing / Work Samples

My work portfolio comprises everything from user experience microcopy and snappy newsletter intros to a 174-page travel guide on San Francisco and the Bay Area. I've also scribbled 1.5 million words about burritos and taquerias, and once I even banged out a 400-word treatise about what makes a great shelf-stable mayonnaise…although I'm a mustard man, myself.

Throughout this whole hodgepodge of writing — whatever the subject, whomever the audience, and whether it's persuasive copy, illuminating content, or something else entirely — the song remains the same. Even if the writing voice does not.

Marketing and UX Copy | Features | Travel / Places | Food / Restaurants | Music | High School Essays

Marketing and UX Copy

404 page (Healthline, 2015)

At Healthline, I worked on many copywriting projects about many things (often medical conditions). This single-word error message remains my favorite. (Design by Pichamon Chamroenrak)

Wellness Wire newsletter (Healthline, 2019)

One of the hundreds of concise intros I composed for Healthline's twice-weekly flagship newsletter, which boasted two million subscribers as this edition published. (Design by Mandi Wolters)

Newsletter signup flow (Healthline, 2018)

A one-stop page for readers looking to subscribe to one or more Healthline newsletters. (Design by Mandi Wolters)

Facebook driver / house ad (Healthline, 2016)

A placement to attract readers to Healthline's social media communities for wellness and specific medical conditions. (Design by Teresa Lieh)

Office entrance sign #1 (Healthline, 2017)

A greeting to office visitors at the foot of the stairs in an effort to save them a bit of time and energy. (Design by Pichamon Chamroenrak)

Office entrance sign #2 (Healthline, 2017)

A follow-up greeting to any office visitors at the top of the stairs who'd blown right by sign #1. (Design by Pichamon Chamroenrak)

Apron with Great Mustache logo (Burritoeater Merch Bazaar, 2006)

"Accessorize that $600 backyard grill with some sharp-looking protectivewear, at a mere fraction of said grill's price. Baste pork with confidence! Balmy weather and tongs not included."

Throw pillow with Great Mustache logo (Burritoeater Merch Bazaar, 2006)

"Arm yourself for battle when that colossal pillow fight breaks out at your next sleepover. Also serves as a patient listener in the wee hours."


Various travel pieces (, 2014-2015) readers clearly enjoy articles with a "best-of" slant, so I play to the crowd with a flurry of features on what sets apart certain places around the US — from San Francisco and Seattle to southern Louisiana and Shelburne Falls.

I Become a Better Citizen (Osmosis, 2009)

A six-part travelogue about a 48-mile hike I undertook through a particularly remote area of Yosemite National Park — and my story of getting there from San Francisco (and back) entirely via transit.

Blocker (SFist, 2007-2008)

My series on exploring San Francisco on a granular level, block by specific block. I researched, wrote, photographed, and produced dozens of such pieces for popular news and culture site

Burrito Obscuro (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 2005)

A would-be grand tour of San Francisco's unlikeliest taqueria locations, as published in the city's longtime alternative weekly.

Travel / Places

San Francisco, California (Pocket Rough Guide: San Francisco, 2014)

"As inspiring and charismatic as its singular setting, San Francisco stands apart from other US destinations; in fact, you'll struggle to find many places like it anywhere in the world. The famed city is surrounded on three sides by churning water and threaded with a grid of streets that courageously tackles thirty-degree gradients, elements that transcend geography to infuse San Francisco with the boldly independent spirit for which it's known. This impression is evident not only in the city's clanging cable cars and charming pastel-hued Victorian architecture, but also its reputation for championing progressive ideals and gay rights. Even the weather patterns here are idiosyncratic: Summer sometimes doesn't arrive until mid-September."

Bay Area Swimming Holes (The Rough Guide to San Francisco and the Bay Area, 2012)

"These Bay Area swim spots offer the best warm-day alternatives to crashing pool parties in suburban back yards or being sucked undersea by swirling ocean currents...."

Cooke City, Montana (The Rough Guide to Yellowstone & Grand Teton, 2011)

"With its minimal civic services — there's no police station in sight, and the smattering of local kids are educated in a one-room schoolhouse — Cooke City's naturally insulated environs dictate far more than just its complete lack of cell phone reception. The town's rough edges are the stuff of Montana legend, from its hardscrabble beginnings as a mining outpost through its long-held romantic image as an end-of-the-highway enclave. In recent years, it's seen a changing of the guard in terms of business ownership, with a number of 'newer' arrivals who showed up in the 1990s having taken over bars and cafes from true Cooke City old-timers; it's a testament to the town's identity, then, how despite these changes, things here haven't changed all that much through the decades. Indeed, spend a short time poking into the few shops and eating (and drinking) around town, and you're bound to sense before long that everyone here really does know everyone else."

Food / Restaurants

San Francisco Burrito Review #1000 (, 2013)

The final bites of my professional burrito-eating career occurred on the afternoon of December 7, 2013 at one of San Francisco's most failure-proof taquerias, La Espiga de Oro. Here's how the event tasted.

El Faro (, 2013)

"We've had it on real good authority for quite some time that El Faro's original proprietor, Febronio Ontiveros, commissioned construction of the first super burrito on Tuesday, September 26, 1961, and we all know where the man's visionary concoction led us."

Just For You (The Rough Guide to San Francisco and the Bay Area, 2012)

"One of San Francisco's true gems, this out-of-the-way destination produces some of the finest, fluffiest (and largest!) beignets outside of New Orleans — take home an extra, all slathered in powdered sugar, for a dollar and change. All breads are homemade (try the raisin cinnamon toast), while the enormous pancakes are the stuff of legend. Service can be as sassy as some of the signs around the place ('We reserve the right to pour coffee on your cell phone; please put it away'). Most everything's under $10. Breakfast and lunch only."

Superlative Slabs of the Aughts (, 2010)

An ultracondensed compendium of the best and worst burritos encountered by's "esteemed judges panel" (ie. yours truly) throughout the 2000s.

Mayonnaise (ChefsBest, 2009)

Sorry, no link. But take my word for it: I can honestly say I've written authoritatively on mayonnaise.


U2's Achtung Baby (Super Deluxe 20th Anniversary Edition) (Blogracket, 2012)

"Few artistic reinventions have been as successful as U2's between 1989-91. Their leap from frowny-faced, black-and-white-portrayed galvanizers of strident high school and college kids the world over, to funtime-loving, color-portrayed messengers of groove with a fusillade of televisions backing them was all a calculated risk. But it completely worked. Achtung Baby has aged better and sounds fresher than anything else from the near-endless smorgasbord of early '90s rock. It's still a monster record — of any era."

Excerpt of review of R.E.M.'s Around the Sun (, 2004)

"Around the Sun sounds like a rewrite of its 2001 predecessor, Reveal, which itself was a pulseless way to spend a listening hour. It's clear to anyone who's been paying attention since former drummer Bill Berry rode off into the sunset in 1997 that R.E.M. has chosen to permanently switch off the rock-it launch on its recording console. But the real tragedy is the songwriter's droop that has apparently set in on the veteran band. On 1992's Automatic for the People, the band turned down the volume considerably and yet proffered all-timers like the gorgeous 'Nightswimming' and the brooding 'Drive'; today, we get month-old breadsticks like Around the Sun's 'Wanderlust' and 'Aftermath.'"

Excerpt of review of Centro-matic's South San Gabriel Songs/Music (All Music Guide, 2002)

"Centro-matic's fifth album recalls the nervous anticipation that comes between snowstorms in the high plains, imploring the listener to get out for some 20-degree fresh air while you can before the next 16 inches arrive. The tension-filled mood peaks on the penultimate track 'Innocence Kindly Waits,' a lovely, barbiturated waltz punctuated by Scott Danbom's screaming fiddle. The gently strummed epilogue 'Destroyer' foreshadows the imminent snowstorm, just as the album's opening sounds of staccato typewriter keys on 'Ninety Secretaries Down' hint at the tempered calm ahead. South San Gabriel Songs/Music paints the most beautifully grim picture imaginable, as these atmospheric, wintry songs suggest that sometimes nothing feels so warm as the cold air on the back of your neck."

High School Essays

My Least Favorite Pastime: Cleaning Venetian Blinds (Justin-Siena High School)

Assigned to write my first essay in Honors English III on the activity I dread most, I turned this task into opportunity, grumbling comedically (for a kid, anyway) about a tedious domestic chore my mom annually handed down to me. Result: A perfect grade of 50 on the essay, and a newfound outlet for teen angst. Hooray for writing!

© Dawn of time - 2023 Charles Hodgkins