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White Castle

originator of the square hamburger patty with holes

White Castle sprang from the grill of fry cook Walter Anderson, who owned a hamburger shop in Wichita, Kansas. In May 1921, Anderson teamed up with local businessman E.W. "Billy" Ingram, who provided $700 to open the first of what he hoped would be many White Castle hamburger shops. And, while White Castle would never become a truly "national" chain, it did indeed grow into a major chain, with shops located in several major cities across the country. By limiting the menu largely to their patented square hamburgers with holes (which originally sold for 5 cents apiece) and beverages, White Castle continues to be a major hamburger chain to this day, and frozen White Castle hamburgers are sold in grocery stores across the country. Ironically, White Castle closed its original stores in Kansas in 1938 and does not currently operate any stores in the state.

an original White Castle hamburger shop

Highlights from the History of White Castle

1921 The first White Castle opens in Wichita, Kansas.

1930 White Castle hires a food scientist to run tests to determine the nutritional value of White Castle hamburgers. One study involves having a medical student live on nothing but White Castle burgers and water for 13 weeks, with no ill effects reported.

ad touting the health benefits of White Castle hamburgers

1931 White Castle begins using frozen beef patties and develops a crush-resistant cardboard carton that is specially lined to keep the burgers hot.

1932 White Castle runs the first fast food coupon advertising campaign, offering 5 hamburgers for the price of 2.

1949 Five holes are added to the already uniquely-shaped hamburger patty.

the trademark square burger patty with five holes

1954 White Castle patents its square hamburger patty with five holes.

1961 White Castle becomes the first hamburger chain to reach the 1 billion in sales mark.

1962 Cheeseburgers are added to the White Castle menu.

1968 The 2 billion in sales mark is achieved.

1986 The Smithereens, a New Jersey rock group, records "White Castle Blues" on its debut album.

1987 Frozen White Castle hamburgers and cheeseburgers are introduced to grocery stores.

The official White Castle website is

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The Robinson Library >> Hospitality Industry

This page was last updated on June 26, 2018.