Locations: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Back in the 1960's, my family lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York off the Fort Hamilton Parkway. Typical homes in the neighborhood were brick townhouses and the major ancestry was Italian, with a mixture of Croatian and Norwegian here and there. I wish I could say that I had an absolutely wonderful childhood in Brooklyn, but I didn't; most of my fond memories are of my maternal grandmother, museums and most especially of food.
White Castle is one of those wonderful food memories; three mini-hamburgers for one whole whopping dollar. The "meat patty" was a little square (2 and 1/2 " by 2 and 1/2 "), just about 1/8 inch thick with 5 holes punched into each; this allowed the steam to cook the patty thoroughly and quickly. A soft square bun (three of those meat patties stacked would equal the height of half the bun) and tiny, diced onions; all prepared on a special steaming table. The smell was awesome, but the taste sent you to heaven; four perfect little bites for each little hamburger or cheeseburger. Sliders? White Castle invented the original sliders! Enjoyers of White Castle had nicknames for the food; the burgers were "belly bombers" and the thin cut fries were "suicide fries". Why? You have to eat them to understand, that's the only way; sorry, can't explain it to a novice, you just have to experience it all.
I've eaten White Castle in Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania; New York always tasted the best, but what do you expect a New Yorker to say, right? Now down South, they have a similar fast food item called Krystal's; tried them in Florida and Georgia and in my personal opinion, they can stay down South. They are not the same as White Castle!
White Castle introduced a frozen version of the hamburgers and cheeseburgers to supermarkets when the microwave became a popular home appliance. Two burgers in a cellophane package steam when "nuked" for one minute; and yes, the onions are included. I eat them when I crave that particular childhood memory, but they're not as good as the fresh made. As soon as the heated cellophane is opened, you can see the bun begin to wrinkle up; don't eat it quickly and it becomes chewy. The meat doesn't cook evenly; a section here overcooked, a section there undercooked. The onions are, well they just don't look, smell or taste right. So why buy them? It's all about the memories; it's all about the memories!
While I'm going to put this blog post under the heading of "Product Review", it's really a trip down memory lane for me. I hope you enjoyed this walk with me.