Serving Tiny Burgers Since 1921
I had my first White Castle burger in 1975 when I moved to St. Louis. Locals made a big deal about the greasy little burgers that they called "Belly Bombers". Nobody talked about the Castle's history of being the country's first fast food chain.
Posing at the Castle
When Don and I visited St. Louis last April, we had to make a stop. We can buy frozen White Castle burgers in Texas, but not hot ones. The Ingram family still owns the company, since it opened in 1921.
They made the decision early on to expand carefully, staying near the company's resoursces... no franchising. There are only a few states, mostly in the midwest, that have the fast food diner. That makes finding one pretty exciting.
White Castle in the Movies & Science
This silly movie about the search for the tasty burgers, confirmed the image of the White Castle as being the top choice for late night munchies... after a night of partying.
But sometimes the little burgers can be a very serious thing. When Don was a young chemical engineer, working in St. Louis, he and couple fellow workers did a very serious experiment, inspired by a White Castle outing.
Hypothesis: No self respecting mold would ever grow on a White Castle burger.
The 3 scientists carefully placed one belly bomber in a jar and attempted to remove the oxygen by purging with nitrogen. The mold did indeed refuse to grow, at least for a number of months.
White Palace... White Knight?
About 30 years ago, White Castle was the inspiration for a book and movie starring Susan Sarandon. The plot was a love story that began at a White Castle in St. Louis. However the fast food chain refused the author or film studio the rights to their name, so the title was White Palace. Scenes were shot at a cute little downtown diner, now called White Knight. The diner was unable to get the rights from the film studio to name their diner White Palace, after their brief fame.
Lots of name hoarding!
Ordering Our White Castle Feast
So back to our dining experience... The interior looked a little less shady than I remembered. Don and I still stood out as tourists when we sat down waiting for our order.
I wish they still had these old sacks. There's something about a white sack, that seems so appropriate... and wholesome and bakery-like.
"BUY 'EM BY THE SACK" Good logo!
Here's the new bag, with grease stains.
There's a new slogan.
"Anything on the Menu Anytime We're Open"
That's a good slogan for a place that's open 24-hours.
About the Food
So the food was as greasy as I remembered. The bun absorbed a lot of that oniony grease.
I should have removed the bun to reveal the nice two-and-a-half-inch square burger with its 5 punched holes. Supposedly the holes help the meat cook evenly, without flipping.
You don't order one burger. In fact there was a disgusting table nearby that had not been cleared. There was a mountain of at least 30 boxes and only 4 chairs. I decided not to take a photo.
Don and Burger
That square burger in Don's hand looked even smaller in person, but it felt a lot bigger in the stomach.
Not only are the burgers known for being greasy, they're known for how they're grilled with chopped onions and served with one pickle. So simple and tasty... at least that's the thought. There's a good reason they call them belly-bombers. I couldn't eat 2.
I'm first to admit, I crave the experience not the food at White Castle!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.