A Slider by any other Name


One of the perks of traveling to Indiana is quick access to White Castle.  I’m a sucker for those little square hamburgers.  I fasted all day Saturday so I could eat there Saturday night.  It was an extra long wait.  While you can eat at White Castle during so-called “normal” dinnertime, they are at their best in the wee hours.  I stopped in at the White Castle by my motel around 11:00 at night.  The restaurant was surrounded by cars in the drive-thru and I had quite a bit of company in the dining room. 

I tried a couple of new things off the menu.  They offer a pulled pork sandwich that wasn’t bad and an Italian chicken sandwich that was edible, but not much more than that.  Both were about two inches square, so I had plenty of room left for what I had come for: four burgers stacked in their little carboard containers on a thoughtfully provided five inch paper plate.

White Castle is a regional thing.  We had them in Chicagoland, but Belvidere doesn’t have one.  I noticed they provide a pamphlet for the uninitiated; called How to Eat a Castle.  I perused the contents as I wolfed down my meal.  I wanted to make sure that in my thirty plus years of dining at White Castle, I hadn’t accidentally overlooked some key component in my enjoyment. 

Well, I can happily report my years of experience covered the gamut of information provided by the pamphlet.  The only thing I learned was the name of the little burgers.  For years, they were known – by White Castle – as White Castle Hamburgers.  However, for everyone else, they were called “sliders”. 

Every so often I would forget my place and accidentally order four sliders.  I would be sternly corrected by the cashier.  “I’m sorry.  You’d like four White Castle Hamburgers?”  It was enough to make you feel like slinking down to the principal’s office.  Apparently after eighty years of disconnect between company and consumer, White Castle has surrendered to popular culture and renamed their burgers officially.  However, it did change the spelling to SlydersTM.  I’m sure the official reason is a real word can’t be trademarked, but a made up one can.  However, the additional benefit is – I’m sure – by deliberately misspelling the word, newcomers won’t think to ask the obvious question.

“So why do they call them ‘sliders’ anyway?”

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One comment

  1. You are absolutely right: Sliders do taste best in the wee hours! The smell emanating from the little caste-shaped buildings about 2:00 a.m. is indescribable, especially after a really “fun” Saturday night. Years ago very few places were open at that time of night and the smell just pulled you into the restaurant. They are delicious, especially if you love cooked onions! Of course, by the following morning many people are ready to swear them off forever — but they never do. I think it’s the “smell” that makes the little square hamburgers “habit-forming.” But it must be more than that — I know many people who’ve moved away from the region where they are sold, only to miss them so much they have the little square “slyders” mailed to them in dry ice across the country!

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