12 things you didn't know about White Castle
It's been 10 whole years since Harold and Kumar went on their quest for sliders, and we still can't look at Doogie Howser quite the same way. To commemorate the movie's decade on the planet, we looked into the chain these men would do anything for (including perform surgery and have a fourway with Freakshow): White Castle.
While the brand's story isn't exactly as epic as Harold and Kumar's, it's got some pretty important highlights. Like, we don't know, inventing the fast-food hamburger?! For real. Here are some other facts you absolutely did not know:
1. White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita.
Two dreamers by the names of Walter Anderson and E.W. "Billy" Ingram are responsible for the cases you crave today. Anderson was a fry-cook whiz and Ingram was a savvy businessman, so it was a match made in fast-food heaven. Though their flagship store was in Wichita, there are no longer any White Castles in Kansas today. Conspiracy theorists, have at it.
2. They're credited with inventing the modern hamburger.
When White Castle debuted in '21, it was a revelation for a lot of reasons. But mainly these four: Anderson cooked his burgers on dedicated grills at 500°F, pressed the patties with the back of his spatula, grilled the onions alongside in the meat juices, and, most importantly, served it all on a white bun instead of sliced bread. The innovations obviously caught on, landing White Castle the esteemed Time honor of most influential burger of all time. Take that, Big Mac.
3. The burgers originally cost a nickel.
Okay, a lot of people know this one. But their coffee was also a nickel. Inflation's a bitch.
4. The "Castle" is based off the Chicago Water Tower.
Though White Castle began in Kansas, its design is based off one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Chicago Water Tower. For those keeping score at home, that's Chicago 1, Wichita 0.
5. They have a side business in "porcelain steel buildings".
A subsidiary of White Castle since 1934, Porcelain Steel Buildings Co. (PSB) made "mobile portable structures" for the restaurants in the beginning, but has evolved into an all-purpose manufacturing, design, and cost reduction division since then. They also had a pretty fly baseball team back in the day. Va va voom!
6. There used to be a dress code.
Or at least a very specific set of guidelines, if this vintage White Castle literature is to be believed. For God's sake, Margaret, go clean your money pouch.
7. They inspired an '80s single.
Buddies Jim Babjak and Bob Banta penned this ode to White Castle jonesing in 1977, and nearly a decade later it appeared on The Smithereens' debut album Especially for You. (Probably because Babjak was the group's lead guitarist.) Listen, and you'll feel like you're in the drive-thru with Duke, Bobbo, and Puke. Those guys had weird friends.
8. They have some seriously dedicated employees.
Four years ago, White Castle decreed June 8th "Elaine Miseta Day" to mark the retirement of their longest-serving staffer, Elaine Miseta. When she stepped down as E.W. "Bill" Ingram III's administrative assistant, the lady had been with the company for 67 years. Respect her memo-writing game.
9. Fans know the sliders by many names.
Including roach burgers, belly busters, gut bombs, whitey one-bites, and even mighty whitey one-biteys. Considering these are all longer than the word "slider", we're not confident the White Castle cult knows what a nickname is.
10. It's very romantic.
White Castle's seductive ambiance isn't news -- where else would you go for Valentine's Day? But the chain's rustic charm has even spawned White Castle weddings, which presumably feature milkshake fountains and chicken ring towers.
11. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is a big fat lie.
Because he's a vegetarian, Kal Penn wasn't eating actual roach burgers in the movie. Nope, the studio fed him a supply of secret veggie burgers, which completely rewrites this cathartic final scene.
12. They have their own hall of fame.
Only the most elite fans make it into the White Castle Cravers Hall of Fame. The creators of Harold and Kumar are in it, the dudes who wrote "White Castle Blues" are in it, and, as of this July, Alice Cooper is in it. Pretty impressive feat, considering he's only 18.