The King and his White Castle

rls_090214_001_columbus-fyouWhite Castle – just the sound of it “slides” off my tongue. 

At some point in my vast years of experience, I’ve come to love this place.  I don’t know when it happened,  but it happened sometime after I graduated college. 

In the late 1990’s I used to go to concerts with friends of mine, and because the bands I liked never frequented the Huntington / Charleston area we would always travel to Cincy or Columbus. Couple friends eventually ended up living there and once that happened it seemed the road trips became that much more frequent.

It wasn’t uncommon to drive from Huntington to Columbus, catch a show at the Newport or the Alrosa Villa, and drive back late that night.

There was always one staple.  White Castle.  They were open 24hours, and you could eat them in a few bites and for the two and half hours trip back to Huntington it was great.

White Castle is known for those little tiny burgers.  Square in shape and sold in a box.   It has been said that in the fast food world, White Castle does everything wrong, for example:

  • (chain snobs beware) – Unlike McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s who derive most of their income from franchising, all the White Castles are still owned by the Parent Company.
  • Additionally as the Big Three have spread to each corner of the world, we’ve got one popping up in our garage right this moment..  White Castle has pretty much remained a mid west item.   They do package and sell there – burgers.  Oh hell let’s call them what they are they’re Sliders..  White Castle probably could have patented the term.
  • The Big 3 have also branched out into breakfast, deserts, smoothies, fresh fruit… Has White Castle – NO! One statistic I read, said that 60% of their sales are from Hamburgers.
  • The biggest difference comes in the smallest of details.. Where the Big three emphasize the size of there patties (everyone remember Where’s The Beef??), White Castle stresses the lack of size.  (trust me I can relate to it)

OH and the first White Castle was built in 1921 in Kansas.

rls_090214_002_columbus-fyou1I can eat a white castle in one bite.. but I do not I like to savor it, thus I take one and a half.    So on mine and Susan’s recent trip to Columbus I of course had to stop and get me some.  Just outside of Circleville along Rt 23 is one, that we’ve stopped at on more than one occasion.

This time was no different… 

We go inside and I order Four Regular White Castles, come on at $0.61 each, I’m surprised I didn’t order the Crave Case.  However I also ordered Two Jalapeno ones.  These Jalapeno ones I wasn’t really expecting much, it was just that Susan pointed them out, and I said what the heck, they’re only $0.78.  That’s a bargain in these economically depressed times.  I’m surprised we didn’t get White Castle coupons as part of the recently passed Stimulus Package.

Susan cannot believe I ordered six, as she doesn’t understand the facination or is it “Lust”.  It very well may be the latter.

Back in the car we get as we’re only about thirty miles from the hotel, and I just figured I’d eat these in the car.  It takes about 0.68 seconds for the succulent aroma of … of…… of… Onions  I guess start permeating the vehicle.  This “Onion” aroma (or as Susan refers to as “stench”) is part of their signature.  Come on, if you’ve ever had one or been around a White Castle, it’s almost like drinking Guinness… There is no delicacy to it… The burgers are oniony and moist, they slide down the throat.  AND THIS IS WHY I LOVE THEM… ALONG WITH THE LEGIONS OF OTHERS THAT DO. The onion taste is unmistakable, and they are so moist they will “slide” down.

rls_090214_003_columbus-fyouThis oniony moist burger masterpiece is created by placing some water on the grill followed by onions, the beef is then placed over the onions, and then the bun over the beef.  (think of it like a rack system) The Buns then ingest the onion flavor as the steam rises through the onions and beef and into them absorbing every bit of onion, beef fat, and moisture….. ahhhhhhhhhhhh,   oops sorry I’m getting a little excited.

White Castle also makes their own buns..  this is another reason they get moist so easy, they are made lighter just for that purpose.  

Making these things has become an art… as any afficionado can attest.. there are five holes in each hamburger patty.  These holes began being added in the 40’s to allow the steam to penetrate the patty and thus add more flavor….  GENUIS!!!!

Okay now that I’ve told you some information that may help you win that all important game of Trivial Pursuit, let me get back to my boring story.

Once buckled in, out on the main drag, I’m digging into my bag because I’m craving.  craving, I say.   I dig in, and grab that first box, not even caring which one it was.    I take one bite and 3/4 of my “slider” is gone.  I instantly realize that this little baby, is a Jalapeno one.  Even though I think most of the spice is coming from the the pepper jack cheese instead of the jalapeno, it’s very good and has some spice.

rls_090214_009_columbus-fyouWell my burgers were all packed in nice and neat and orderly, so my next one was also a Jalapeno burger, but twenty seconds later I am tasting the Original!  (Susan begins rolling down her window as I am having an Onion Orgasm)

So it is that Susan decided to take the majority of these pictures….  And in them you can see the little box packaging,  the onions, –  hold on I just finished my third.. and am opening sliding out another.    Literally sliding, you see some of my burgers were mishandled and I could just dump them down into my mouth think of the college prank of drinking a live gold fish, two chomps, and it’s history.

I’m finished with my six burgers before we are even two miles onto I270.

The best part of White Castle comes the next morning.


5 responses to “The King and his White Castle

  1. Nice post. When I was in college I ordered a mystery menu item – chicken rings.

    One line in your report reminded me of a Rule of Thumb from the West Virginia Surf Report –

  2. Most people either love em or hate em. There’s no in-between. I loved em from the first bite in Columbus back in 1955 (or was it 54?) We had a White Castle on Washington St E for many years, but it wasnt a REAL White Castle or had anything to do with it other than the name and the look. Strange.

    I tried the frozen ones at Kroger, but they didnt come close of course. You would think WC would have been here by now.

  3. First time I had WC was a couple years ago on a Xcountry. Somewhere in Oklahoma we stopped for gas and decided to find out what the hoopla was about with WC and got a bag full. I had a couple and never finished the rest. A year or so later I was in downtown Columbus late at night and we decided to stop at WC. It was no more memorable than the first time. I bothered with them since.
    I’ve always been a fan of cheap eats and burgers in particular, but WCV just didn’t do it for me.

    There used to be a chain called “Scotties” in the midwest and one up north called “Carrolls.”

  4. I think they are gross. They made my V-Dub smell bad. EEEEEEWWWW

    They can’t hold a candle to Chicken Littles from KFC.

  5. Pshaw, you northerners! Krystal burgers are the only small, square burgers worth mentioning!

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