"Crave on!" exclaimed vice president of White Castle Jamie Richardson as he signed off on an email exchange.
We bet you know what craving he’s talking about. It’s that mouthwatering thought of something small, something tender, and something that’s a perfect balance of meat, onion, bun, and pickle — it’s the White Castle slider craving. You don’t really need to say much more than that, because everyone understands. The mini burgers are so unique, original, and delicious that anyone who's enjoyed a White Castle slider can't help but take part in the slider-mania that has spread across the country in the form of restaurants, freezer staples, and even a Hollywood movie.
So what’s so good about them? Well, for starters, they’re the number-one menu item of the fast-food chain that only has 409 restaurants across the country, a far cry from many of the other popular chains. The unique and almost unattainable qualities of the sliders are what make them so special for so many people, and it’s why they crave them, love them, and try to make them themselves.
The story of the slider started back in 1921, when two Kansas folks, Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram, broke bread together. Anderson, a cook, wooed his insurance broker friend Ingram with one of his sandwich creations, a hamburger, and from there the idea of White Castle was born. With "castle" signifying strength and permanence, "white" was meant to signify purity, a counterargument to Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book The Jungle, which cast a negative and impure outlook on beef. White Castle’s popularity picked up immediately, and as the first-ever fast-food chain, their success and mission statement have remained constant through their years of business. "Convenience for customers and an incredibly [delicious] product they can’t get anywhere else," says Richardson, is what defines the company. In other words, desirability.
"We’re the object of desire — part of it is that we are trying to be all things for all people; our taste is distinctive and we have that commitment," explains Richardson.
So, enough about White Castle and let’s get to the slider already.
At 5 ounces a serving with 140 calories and 6 grams of fat, the slider is, in the words of Richardson, "the perfect blend of beef and bun — the true alchemy is how the flavors meld together, become one distinct taste because of the fresh bun, the hot beef, the onion, and the balance of the perfectly placed pickle."
Because of its strong following, many people have tried to replicate the beloved slider, but few have succeeded. As the cook editors here at The Daily Meal researched the project, we came across scores of recipes, all using different techniques and ingredients. Along our journey, we discovered a recipe by BigRedKitchen blogger Robin Joss that was as close to what we envisioned as possible. We didn’t necessarily agree with Joss' specifics (don't get us wrong, hers is pretty good, too), but we agreed with her craver passion and style, which is why we asked her to work with us on this project. We poured ourselves into the details with Joss, and analyzed every little clue and hint that Richardson provided us.
We’re pretty pleased with the results. In discussing the recipe with Richardson, he suggests, "The closest [you] will ever get [to the slider] is to go to your local grocery store and buy a package of frozen White Castle sliders."
We liked his salesman pitch, but we were unconvinced, and are confident that this recipe will help you succeed in making your very own White Castle slider at home.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce