Nothing aggravates me more than sitting in my VW bus in a drive-thru lane at the local fast food joint. Especially when the needle on the gas gauge is in the red. I have nightmares of running out of gas in a drive-thru line of forty vehicles or so. When I finally get up to the speaker, the pressure is on. The speaker is set smack dab in the middle of the menu and I forgot my glasses. The voice is barely audible and you have to make a quick decision and order your food by the number on the menu. You can’t just say, “Cheeseburger, fries and a Coke”. That confuses them; you have to have the number. By this time, the exhaust fumes are killing me. You wait a few seconds and it comes.
“Please pull around to the first window”.
Yes, they have two windows now. The first one you pay and then drive three feet to the second window to pick up your sack of food and the Coke with the lid barely on it. A few times I have been known to pull up to the first window, pay, and then drive right by the second window. I realize this about a quarter-mile down the road when I reach into the bag for some fries and there is no bag.
Who came up with this idiotic fast food concept in the first place? Sure, fast food is a health risk, but it’s fast, so that makes it okay.
I bet you are sitting back and blaming McDonald’s, right?
KFC? Burger King? Wrong again.
I have a fondness for a White Castle burger or two, or eight, they started it all. Think the Applebee’s or Red Robin came up with sliders? White Castle started it all in 1921.
Believe it or not, Krystal came along eleven years later. McDonald’s started up in 1937 and introduced the drive-thru in 1948. The Colonel started selling KFC chicken in 1952 and Burger King landed on the fast food circuit in 1953. Taco Bell first appeared in 1962, until then it was the Mexican phone company.
White Castle was the first to emphasize cleanliness, with a lot of porcelain and stainless steel inside the restaurant and they were the first to have counter jockeys and cooks in uniforms and those funny paper hats. Not to mention that the buildings themselves were kind of cool.
White Castle is generally credited with inventing the hamburger bun and as I mentioned, the hamburger is actually a slider, at about a quarter of the price of a slider at your neighborhood bar and grill casual upscale joint. And the burger is steamed! My mouth is watering. No condiments, add your own ketchup and/or mustard. No lettuce, tomato or special sauce and you have to ask for the cheese.
To this day, White Castle revenues per store are second only to McDonald’s, which is saying something because McDonald’s has over 32,000 restaurants world-wide and the White Castle has less than five-hundred.
So if you are sick of drive-thru’s and fat burgers and all the hassle that comes with it, but still crave a White Castle, try this at home. I guarantee you won’t forget to pick up the food at the second window.
- 1 Lb. Ground Beef
- 1/2 Cup Beef Broth
- 2 Cups Warm Water
- 1 1/2 Cups Dried Onions
- 15-20 Small Dinner Rolls or Slider Buns
- 1Combine the onions and water and let sit for about 10 minutes.
- 2Line a large baking sheet with plastic wrap.
- 3Combine the beef and broth in a bowl, mix well and dump it out on the baking sheet. Flatten the beef mixture with the palm of your hand until it fills the baking sheet.
- 4Cover the mixture with another sheet of plastic wrap and go over it with a rolling pin until meat mixture is about ¼ inch thick.
- 5Cut the meat into square patties measuring about 2 to 2/12 inches wide squares. Poke three or four holes in each patty with a straw. You may freeze them at this point or use them now.
- 6Place a large skillet or a flat griddle on the stove at high heat. Pour about a quarter of the onion mixture in, cover and let it steam. Place patties, (Don’t over crowd them), on top of the onion mixture and cook covered until browned, this should take a few minutes
- 7Flip the patties, onions and all, cover again for a minute and place a bun half on top of each one. Brown again, remove the patties and buns, and set on a plate.