History of White Castle

History of White Castle

White-CastleThe first and the oldest burger chain — and it’s still operating

White Castle is America’s first and the oldest existing hamburger chain. It launched several innovations that other burger fast food chains would adopt in later years. White Castle’s signature food item is the small burgers which are called “sliders.”

Launching several fast-food innovations

The fast food chain was established in Wichita, Kansas in 1921 by founders Walt A. Anderson and Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram. The establishment was meant to change the public perception about the poor food sanitation practices, most especially in meat packing. Soon White Castle opened a few more restaurants around the Midwest, with their buildings’ interiors built with white porcelain elements, evoking cleanliness in their products.

Because of White Castle’s astounding success, a number of competing imitators mushroomed. Nevertheless, none of them were able to match White Castle’s success. In 1924 Anderson and Ingram incorporated their business, named White Castle System Of Eating Houses Corporation.

The company saw many firsts and important innovations such as the first hamburger bun, credited to Anderson. White Castle introduced standardization methods, especially in serving the burger – no matter what White Castle branch you are in, you will be assured of the same quality burger with the same size as with the other White Castle stores. This method would be generally adopted in the whole fast food industry.

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White Castle’s burgers used to be made of fresh beef patties and onions. When White Castle started, these sliders were sold at five cents each.

White Castle was the first fast food burger chain in the country, and as the fast food concept was still new then, the company had no means of sourcing their supplies so they also began to establish their own bakeries (for the buns) as well as their own meat processing plants. The chain made another innovation when they built its subsidiary Paperlynen, which supplied paper hats for its workers.

A year after Anderson sold his interest in the company to Ingram in 1933, White Castle moved its offices from Wichita, Kansas to Columbus, Ohio. Around the same time the business continued to expand, with the establishment of Porcelain Steel Building which gave White Castle’s chain of restaurants the unique exterior of their buildings.

By the 1940s the cost of the burgers rose from five to ten cents apiece, and the burgers were no longer made of fresh beef patties but of frozen, square patties By the 1950s the burgers had added five holes onto the patties to facilitate cooking as well as to eliminate the need for flipping them over. This was made in order to speed up the cooking time.

Small (as their sliders) but successful

The chain had also published its own magazine the White Castle Official House Organ which was meant for the employees of the fast food chain. Originally titled The Hot Hamburger, the magazine existed from the 1920s up the early 1990s.

White Castle remains privately-owned and its 400-plus outlets are owned by the company as they are not franchised. Ingram, who was also the company’s president, had steadfastly resisted the idea of franchising his restaurants; his policies still strongly resonate up to this day. White Castle is now headed by Ingram’s grandson Edgar Waldo Ingram III; Ingram Sr.’s son Ingram Jr had taken over the position of CEO following the co-founder’s death in 1966.

At the turn of the new century, White Castle has continued to grow, with the expansion plan of opening 20 to 25 outlets each year.

As it is the first fast-food restaurant, White Castle is responsible for popularizing the hamburger into mainstream American cuisine. Despite its modest size, its success story led others to build their own hamburger empire, and that includes McDonald’s.

White Castle’s burgers used to be made of fresh beef patties and onions. When White Castle started, these sliders were sold at five cents each.

White Castle was the first fast food burger chain in the country, and as the fast food concept was still new then, the company had no means of sourcing their supplies so they also began to establish their own bakeries (for the buns) as well as their own meat processing plants. The chain made another innovation when they built its subsidiary Paperlynen, which supplied paper hats for its workers.

A year after Anderson sold his interest in the company to Ingram in 1933, White Castle moved its offices from Wichita, Kansas to Columbus, Ohio. Around the same time the business continued to expand, with the establishment of Porcelain Steel Building which gave White Castle’s chain of restaurants the unique exterior of their buildings.

By the 1940s the cost of the burgers rose from five to ten cents apiece, and the burgers were no longer made of fresh beef patties but of frozen, square patties By the 1950s the burgers had added five holes onto the patties to facilitate cooking as well as to eliminate the need for flipping them over. This was made in order to speed up the cooking time.

Small (as their sliders) but successful

The chain had also published its own magazine the White Castle Official House Organ which was meant for the employees of the fast food chain. Originally titled The Hot Hamburger, the magazine existed from the 1920s up the early 1990s.

White Castle remains privately-owned and its 400-plus outlets are owned by the company as they are not franchised. Ingram, who was also the company’s president, had steadfastly resisted the idea of franchising his restaurants; his policies still strongly resonate up to this day. White Castle is now headed by Ingram’s grandson Edgar Waldo Ingram III; Ingram Sr.’s son Ingram Jr had taken over the position of CEO following the co-founder’s death in 1966.

At the turn of the new century, White Castle has continued to grow, with the expansion plan of opening 20 to 25 outlets each year.

As it is the first fast-food restaurant, White Castle is responsible for popularizing the hamburger into mainstream American cuisine. Despite its modest size, its success story led others to build their own hamburger empire, and that includes McDonald’s.

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