How Was "White Castle" Named?
White Castle is the oldest American hamburger fast food restaurant chain. It is known for square burgers, commonly referred to as "sliders" (or "slyders"), which were priced at 5 cents until the 1940s, and remained at ten cents for years thereafter while growing smaller. For several years, when the original burgers sold for 5 cents, White Castle periodically ran promotional ads in local newspapers which contained coupons offering 5 burgers for 10 cents, takeout only. The typical White Castle restaurant architecture features a white exterior with a crenelated tower at one corner to resemble a medieval castle. The Chicago Water Tower, which stands on Michigan Avenue, is said to be the model for the classic building. The company was founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, when entrepreneur Billy Ingram partnered with cook Walter Anderson, who had developed an efficient way of cooking hamburgers quickly. Anderson's original method used freshly ground beef and fresh onions.
White Castle was an early example of successful fast food marketing. While the White Castle company is based on four earlier hamburger stands owned by Anderson, the current name was chosen by Ingram in 1921 to distinguish it from other, less salubrious fast food outlets that many consumers were reluctant to visit (White Castle's own facilities, prior to 1921, were considered shoddy by some). "White" was chosen for its connotations of purity, while the "Castle" element was selected as it suggested stability and permanence. This factor was essential in the store's early successes, so much so that several chains (some of which still exist, such as Krystal) imitated the formula.
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