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9 Things You Didn’t Know About White Castle

9 Things You Didn’t Know About White Castle

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We’ve all been there: sitting in class or at work, watching television, or playing sports, when the urge hits. White Castle is more than just a place that serves a craveable soft little hamburger on a tiny bun, though: It’s a legendary institution, credited as the very first fast food chain in the United States. Read on for nine things you didn’t know about this burger institution.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About White Castle (Slideshow)

White Castle was founded in Wichita, Kansas, way back in 1921, by a cook named Walt Anderson and his friend, an insurance salesman named Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram. They sold thin little onion-topped burgers that were smashed down on the griddle (which came to be known as “sliders”) for five cents, and perfected the process that allowed them to keep opening new locations while maintaining a high-quality product. Nobody had successfully done this before Anderson and Ingram, and their methods not only gave rise to the burger chains we know and love today, it also popularized the hamburger as an all-American food.

Today, there are White Castles in markets including Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville, St. Louis, and New York. The New York area is known as an “exclave” for the company because it’s so far away from where all the other locations are, so New Yorkers should be very grateful that the chain branched out of the Midwest to grace them with their presence. When the Las Vegas location opened in January 2015 (which marked the first expansion into a new state in 56 years), demand was so high that it needed to shut down for two hours to restock — the first time that had ever happened in the 24-hour-a-day chain’s history.

Each White Castle slider contains six grams of fat and 140 calories, so eating a dozen of them in one sitting might not be the best idea. But there’s something about these greasy little burgers that’s unlike anything else out there, and it’s truly a bite of Americana. Nowadays, we may think of White Castle as just another fast food chain, but in reality, it’s anything but. Read on for nine things you didn’t know about White Castle.

Cleanliness Was the Secret to Its Success

Ground beef was one of the most feared food items in America when the first White Castle opened, largely because of the success of Upton Sinclair’s 1906 exposé The Jungle, which made the poor sanitation practices of the meat packing industry public. To make sure that nobody thought that their burgers were anything but 100 percent clean, the buildings were painted completely white, the interiors were made of stainless steel, and the employees all wore spotless uniforms.

The Design is Modeled After Chicago’s Water Tower Pumping Station

The chain’s buildings were all prefabricated, and were modeled after the Chicago Water Tower, which features a parapet, octagonal buttresses, and crenelated towers. A descendant of that original design is still in use today.

The Best 5-Ingredient White Castle Hamburgers

Depending on where you live, White Castle might be a regular favorite or part of the lore and legend only known about because of the Harold & Kumar movies. And yet, despite the fact that it only has fewer than 400 locations in only 13 states, this fast-food restaurant stands out in the sea of burger joints because of its tiny, almost bite-sized sliders. In fact, White Castle was the first fast-food hamburger chain to sell over one billion burgers!

If you're one of the unlucky many that don't have a White Castle near you, you can still find their products in the frozen aisle of most grocery stores. But, if you're like us, frozen hamburgers don't always sound too appealing. So we decide to crack to the code and make the perfect copycat White Castle sliders. After a few test batches, we came up with a method that makes sliders that almost look like the real deal. Better yet, they taste almost identical, too, and this recipe doesn't require a pantry full of ingredients or a ton of time to execute. Read on to find out how to make these delicious 5-ingredient White Castle hamburgers.

Mom’s Homemade White Castle sliders

  • 1 medium white onion, halved and sliced very thin (on a mandoline if you have one)
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
  • 1/3 cup Italian (not panko) bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • American cheese, to top
  • Dill pickle slices, to top
  • 12-pack Hawaiian dinner rolls, split

Get the sliced onions caramelizing while you prepare everything else. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet, add the onions, stir to coat, and enact the long, slow dance of adding water and scraping every time the onions start to sizzle.

Meanwhile, add the beef, soup mix, bread crumbs, and egg to a bowl. Fold together until the mixture is just firming up. You’re going to mix this a lot more than a typical burger, but do it as little as you can to keep it from going full racquetball on you. (Miss me with your “Hey wait yer makin’ a meatloaf!” takes.)

Evenly spread the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch rimmed sheet pan, refrigerate, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When the oven comes to temperature, remove the beef from the fridge and top it with the caramelized onions. Bake for 12-15 minutes. If you’ve sculpted correctly (yes, this is art), the entirety of the pan should come to temperature at the same time.

Drain the liquid (one of those drawbacks of heartland sheet-based cooking) and, if you’re serving immediately, top with cheese and pop under the broiler to melt. Remove from oven, slice into 12 even portions, and make some sliders.

If you’re feeling fancy, pop the cardboard tray of split rolls out of the bag, cover with a dish towel or parchment paper, and steam them for a minute or two before assembling the burgers.

These taste great served immediately, but Mom’s secret trick was always to make extras, reassemble the rolls in neat order in the tray, and put that back into the bag so we’d have a second day (usually never a third) of slider leftovers. Just pop a few out, microwave, and enjoy. Thirty seconds wrapped in a damp paper towel and the leftovers are nearly good as new.

Quasi-legal popup operator, beer writer by day (and also night), author of two cookbooks. Third one's on the way, and it's nothing but pizza.

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Since you didn’t mention it, I’m assuming the burgers-in-sheet pan that you’re describing don’t have the holes that the image at the top has? Stock photo (of WHAT?)?

Though now that picture has me thinking, usually when you make a burger (I mean, usually when _I_ make a burger, anyway, I don’t know what y’all do) to grill or fry, you try to leave a depression in the center, so it doesn’t golf-ball on you and get all spherical and weird. Maybe if you’re doing thin slider type patties, you could do some holes, and that would make it cook right. Hmm. Give the meat some vacant volume to expand to. Hmm. If the holes stayed open, and you put cheese on the patty, it melted, and kind of fries on the bottom, that’d be an interesting texture.

(everyone likes donut holes - how about MEAT holes!? Naw, that sounds totally wrong, forget I said that) (Burger holes!? (better?))

Copycat White Castle Sliders

If you love White Castle Sliders, you will love this Copycat Recipe for White Castle Sliders that tastes like the real thing but healthier. These are great to make while grilling out with friends or for the family. Try them for yourself and you will see what we are talking about!


  • 2 pkgs Dinner Rolls (16 rolls)
  • 1 lb Ground Chuck
  • 2 1/3 cup Beef Broth
  • 1 cup Dried Minced Onions
  • 8 American Cheese Slices (optional)
  • 16 Hamburger Dills
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper

I made White Castle Pâté and I’d do it again

Even before the current stay-at-home reality, I spent a lot of time on Twitter, both for my job and because I’m the type of fidgety no-attention-span person the platform is built for. And in my time there, I’ve noticed that one of the most reliable sources of entertainment is the church cookbook dunking-on.

If jazz is America’s native art form, then church cookbook horrors are a reliable #2 for that crown. And here in the Midwest, dueling Catholic and Lutheran palates drive the art form to new heights—culminating, perhaps, in this tweet from a couple of days ago:

There’s so much going on here. Pureed fast food! Unappetizing terms like “a hard dough”! Sour cream for no particular reason! I demanded this assignment as The Takeout’s sometime Ambassador of Seems Terrible But Hey Maybe . And you know that I’ve got it bad for White Castle. You’re on, Judy Holt.

First off, I acquired the necessary materials. And, no joke, much love and respect to the fast food workers who still have to show up every single day for idiots who need things to chuck into a blender. White Castle workers (and food service folks in general), I appreciate you and hope you’re all safe and well.

Now is when you’re probably thinking, “Wait, did he really huck a bunch of whole White Castle sliders in a blender? I don’t want to see that.” Which is why I’m so sorry for what you’re about to see.

It happened. All the screaming at your laptop screen that you’re doing right now? That won’t undo the fact that it happened. So let’s make a fast food burger pâté like adults.

  • 10 entire White Castles
  • Water (or pilsner, if you’re already at it), to thin—I ended up using about a cup

My blender didn’t love this, but it persevered, and eventually we got results. It went into the oven for 45 minutes at 325 degrees in my fanciest Pyrex dish. And behold, it came out as a real damn pâté-looking bastard:

It went into the fridge to cool until showtime. By then, I had roped my wife into this, because I am a bad husband. New box of Triscuits secured, and fortified by alcohol, we dove in, much in the same manner as one flinchingly jumps into a cold park district pool in mid-May.

  1. Not . bad?
  2. Wait, not not bad. Decent.
  3. Is this good?
  4. Holy shit, this is good.
  5. Oh man, this is great.

Seriously. Dunk on the Third Coast and our general vicinity all you want—this recipe is fucking delicious and I will swear on this platform as many times as is needed to underscore this very unexpected point. Your grandma might be an absolute legend, held back only by a pre-pandemic ingredient snobbery that has no place in our present situation. So cut the cool-kid shit and dive back into those spiral-bound print shop beauties until you also find some gold. I was as surprised and circumspect as you currently are. None of this changes the delight I was (and am currently) experiencing.

With a dorky enthusiasm not seen since the Wham! video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” Emily and I then pulled out every relatively compatible condiment from the refrigerator and had ourselves the most unexpected two-person fine dining party in the history of our kitchen.

Here are capsule reviews of various pâté pairings:

  • Dijon mustard: Delightful. That mustard definitely belonged in the back of that limo .
  • Thousand Island dressing: Not bad! Animal-style pâté, if you will.
  • Sweet pickle relish: This suuuuuuuuuuuucks, unexpectedly. Do not do this thing. Like a toothpaste charcuterie.
  • Sambal oelek: Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.
  • Jarred salsa: Decent!
  • Stone ground mustard: Even better than Dijon.
  • Hot sauce: Great way to cut the richness.
  • Pickles: Yes. Pickles and Thousand Island, yes +25. Pickles and hot sauce, double yes.

Part of doing weird food experiments is crashing and burning for fun and cheap likes. But a way smaller part of it, the BEST part, is finding something really, really tasty that you never saw coming. My friends, today I come to you as late-Ratatoullie Peter O’Toole. This is delicious, and you can dunk on me all you want because I have been set free by love and flavor and a probably inadvisable amount of sodium. Blend you some White Castle, friends. And thank that Twitter account while you’re at it.

Here’s the real magical part. At some point, well past 9 p.m., my four-year-old daughter came downstairs because she does not respect my parental authority (you wouldn’t either if you knew me). She pointed to the W.C. pâté and said, “Is it peanut butter?” I lied like a real shitty dad and said yes. She’s a picky eater, and as such, I will absolutely game her like a poker player with an obvious tell. So she tried it and she loved it, devouring cracker after cracker until I realized, hey, I’m the parent here and she should be in bed. This isn’t just farty-food-writer-approved cuisine here, people. This is toddler-approved stuff.

There’s still a big chunk of this magical pâté left in the fridge, and I assure you it will all be eaten. You won’t even have to forcemeat.

White Castle Casserole

One of my favorite things to do on trips through the Midwest is to eat at White Castle. I’m not sure if they have restaurants outside of that region of the United States? If they do, I have never seen them. If you’ve never been there and you get a chance, definitely stop in and grab a sack – and relish in the fact that you are eating a part of American history! From White Castle’s website – “It’s an experience that transcends time, space and sometimes, rational thought.”

White Castle, founded in 1921 by Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram, is famous for it’s “sliders” – a simple, small, square burger. What you may not know is, White Castle, is generally credited as being the first ever “fast-food chain.” Anderson is credited with inventing the hamburger bun and for using Henry Ford’s model of the assembly line in the kitchen. Who knew?

Trips to the Midwest are a little more scarce for us these days. With a large family and my husband’s 60+ hour a week job, it all prevents us from doing many things. Our priorities are in other places rather than galavanting around the Midwest eating at White Castle. Our “trips” tend to be a little closer to home right now.

How do I enjoy White Castle without a restaurant near me?

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And, that doesn’t have to stop us from enjoying White Castle. We could buy those pre-packaged boxes of sliders in the freezer section of our nearest big box store. Or we could make this super easy casserole that has all the same great taste!

Obviously, we went for the latter. And you should too! It’s so easy to make this White Castle Casserole at home. And it’s a family-approved recipe! My kids love when this casserole makes an appearance on the menu!

I will note that although ketchup is not listed as an ingredient, sometimes I like to add a drizzle of that underneath the top layer of crescent rolls along with the mustard and pickles. If BBQ sauce is your jam, feel free to substitute that. You just can’t go wrong with this easy White Castle Casserole!

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White Castle Revealed Its Top 10 Slider Recipes, Including One for Burger Casserole

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a hold on plans to eat out—or even going over to mom’s to sucker her into making you a meal—people are left with two options: cook something yourself or order something in. But if you’re feeling ambitious and want to do both, White Castle has you covered.

In honor of National Hamburger Month—which kicks off today—the tiny burger specialist has released its first-ever “Top Ten Slider-Based Recipes” list. White Castle burgers have long been heralded for their ability to be turned into a solid stuffing, but the brand wants people to know that your culinary creations don’t have to stop there. In fact, it has ten other ideas to get you started. (That’s right, slider stuffing didn’t even make the top ten! It’s that good of a list, I guess!)

“We have 50 amazing recipes on our website, and our in-house chef chose these Top Ten for their taste, simplicity and popularity among the Craver Nation,” Jamie Richardson, vice president at White Castle, said in the announcement. The cream of the crop include things like White Castlerole, Loaded Mac & Cheese Sliders, and White Castle Vidalia Dip. For the record, the White Castle does have two stuffing recipes on its site they just didn’t make the cut for the Top Ten. And neither did the White Castle Monte Cristos which, frankly, sound amazing.

White Castle’s head chef and director of product innovation Phillip Bach then chimed in himself, adding, “These days, families have more time than ever to cook and eat together. ਊs a family owned business, White Castle wants to help families create memorable moments.” Because what’s more memorable than arguing with your significant other about how many sliders are too many sliders to add to your Castle Con Queso Dip?

If you want to see Chef Philip in action, White Castle says it&aposll be putting videos of him preparing these recipes up on its YouTube channel over the next few months. The White Castle Casserole Recipe is already live to get you started.

Here’s the full Top Ten List of Slider-Centric Recipes “in no particular order” as presented by White Castle—who, by the way, want to remind you that these recipes will also work with the frozen White Castle Sliders you can grab from the grocery store…

  • 2 pkgs Dinner/Slider Rolls (16 rolls - NOT hamburger buns)
  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 2 1/3 cup beef broth or stock
  • 1 cup dried minced onions
  • 8 slices American cheese (optional)
  • 16 slices hamburger dill pickles
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • Line a 10" x 15" jelly roll pan (or any pan with a lip) with parchment paper.
  • Mix ground chuck, 2/3 cup of the beef broth, salt and pepper together until mixture is easily spreadable.
  • Gently press and spread meat mixture into prepared pan until you form a thin even layer.
  • Using a knife, score each into 16 equal rectangles.
  • Use your finger to poke 5 holes in each patty.
  • Place in freezer for at least 1 hour. Remove frozen patties and set aside (still on the parchment paper).
  • Preheat oven to 450F.
  • Pour remaining beef broth (1 2/3 cup) into the jelly roll pan and spread minced onions over the entire bottom of the pan.
  • Allow to sit for 5 - 10 minutes so the broth can soak in to the onions.
  • If using slider rolls, separate the bottoms from the tops. If using dinner rolls, cut them in half so that they become buns.
  • If using cheese, divide each slice in half
  • Place frozen sheet of sliders on top of the onions/broth
  • Bake for 10 minutes until the meat has been steamed (they will turn brown)
  • Remove pan from the oven and place cheese on each patty (if using cheese). Place the top of the bun on top of the cheese.
  • Return the pan to the oven for 3 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt (make sure to not leave it in so long that the bun gets too toasted).
  • Place a pickle slice on each of the bottom portions of the bun
  • Use a spatula to scoop up each slider (with the onions underneath) and place on the bottom bun
  • Serve and enjoy!

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9 Things You Might Not Know about Krystal

The Tennessee chain where you buy burgers by the sackful has had a devoted following since the '30s. Even the King himself—Elvis Presley—couldn't resist the tiny square treats.


Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill founded Krystal in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1932, right in the middle of the Great Depression. Their plan for a recession-proof restaurant followed four tenets:

—To Operate A Spotlessly Clean Establishment
—To Serve The Best Foods Obtainable, Properly Cooked
—To Render Quick, Efficient, And Courteous Service
—To Offer All These At The Lowest Price Possible

Because their small burgers (also called “Krystals”) have always been priced to move, the company has had fairly steady success for over 80 years.


Metaphorically speaking, at least. It’s company legend that Davenport and his wife were driving "down a mountain road" when Mrs. Davenport saw a crystal ball lawn ornament. Remembering that cleanliness was key to the new restaurant’s foundation, she suggested that her husband "should name the restaurant Crystal for ‘clean as a crystal,’ with a ‘K’ to add a little twist.” Future restaurants were adorned with silvery crystal ball ornaments on their sides in honor of this chance encounter.


When it came to housing the new kind of quick, clean eatery, its founders wanted Krystal’s outside to mirror its insides. They ordered a mostly prefabricated 25’ by 10’ building with stainless steel interior and a white porcelain enamel exterior from Chicago and had it sent to Chattanooga.


If you’re a tiny burger fan, you may have noticed that the minute, almost-fit-in-your-mouth burgers with square patties sold by Krystal are a lot like the signature burgers you’ll find at White Castle. That’s no accident. Davenport and Sherrill, both of whom were experienced businessmen, had visited White Castle restaurants and been impressed with their efficiency. So, after inquiring about the behind-the-scenes model and procedures, the two decided to try out the premise for themselves.


Krystal might have started out with a borrowed recipe for a successful restaurant, but they came up with other ways to stand out. Krystal’s Breakfast Scramblers line, for example, takes traditional Southern plate breakfasts like grits with eggs and sausage, and "stacks them smartly in bowls" for a meal-to-go that isn't a tired old breakfast burrito. And, after launching Krystal HotSpot in 2003, the company also reportedly held the first-place spot among fast-food chains across the country for the most free WiFi in 2005.


Hardcore Elvis Presley fans might know that it was renowned DJ “Daddy-O” Dewey Phillips who first gave the future King radio air time in 1954. They might not know, however, that both Presley and Phillips were enormous fans of buying Krystal burgers en masse after hanging out at the studio from which Phillips’ “Red, Hot and Blue” show was broadcast.

The DJ’s widow Dot Phillips recalled that it “wasn't anything for Dewey to call at twelve midnight and say that there was a bunch coming out to the house," but that he didn’t expect his wife to feed the whole gang rather, he and Presley would order a hundred or so burgers from the Krystal restaurant downtown for pickup after the broadcast, and “maybe an hour later [the two men and] the crowd would arrive. They'd come walking in the front door both of 'em carrying just sacks full of those durn things."


As far as advertising campaigns go, Krystal's disembodied head named Bob was definitely an odd one. Krystal officials themselves noted that they got parental complaints that the ads were scaring some children, and Advertising Age wrote that the campaign was "very bizarre and . marginally offensive." The mostly unpopular mascot got the swift boot after just three years. "While Bob was highly effective in building awareness and sales, we wanted to enhance the Krystal concept by focusing on our primary point of interest—unique, great-tasting food that people crave," Krystal VP of marketing Tom Whitley told the Associated Press in 1994.

After giving customers the option to take home free "Boot Bob" or "Keep Bob" bumper stickers in order to gauge Bob's popularity, the company found that 70% of patrons "were in favor of booting Bob," and despite the fact that most customers did want the company to keep Bob's dog George around, "it was an all or nothing deal," Whitley said.


The story goes that country/crossover singer Crystal Gayle, born Brenda Gail Webb, based her stage name on Krystal. Supposedly, her sister—country star Loretta Lynn—suggested the first name Crystal because of the burger chain, and Brenda, who dug the idea, rounded out the new moniker by making a version of her own middle name into her surname. It served her well—Crystal won a Grammy and was named the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year in both 1977 and '78.


For six years, Krystal hosted the World Hamburger Eating Championship with its Krystal Square Off, and in 2007, Joey Chestnut—of Nathan's Hot Dog championship fame—downed an impressive 103 Krystal burgers in eight minutes. Even if they're little, that's a lot of sackfuls.


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