A few years back my boss brought a couple of ‘Crave Cases’ to work, unannounced, as a treat for the staff. Approximately 50% of my co-workers were revolted, 30% had never even tried one, and 20% or so (including me) felt like we won a trip to Disney World.
There is a nostalgia component for me, to be sure, but I do loves me some White Castles. And, as luck would have it, I live within spitting distance of one.
Go ahead and hate if you must, but I know I’m not alone here.
Loved them as a kid, 45 years ago. There was one down the street from a movie theater, and you popped in with a date there after the movie. (The other movie theater was next to a sit down Horn and Hardarts. Bliss.)
Still buy the frozen ones sometime, but it’s not the same.
I love White Castles. The have a wonderful onion flavor that is unique to say the least. It’s fun for people to make fun of them with jokes about gastro distress, but I must have an iron gut, because that has never been a problem for me. I used to drive by one on my way to work, and would hit the drive thru for some 5:30 am sliders for my tollway drive to work.
The one nearest me now is maybe 10 or 15 miles away, so I have to be in the area in order to stop.
They have frozen ones in the grocery store which are not the same, and it’s not just the missing pickles. They don’t compare to the ones which require a 10 minute wait in the drive thru. (Seriously White Castle, what’s up with that drive through wait time?)
Surprisingly enough, their frozen burgers are remarkably consistent with the ones you get at the actual White Castle locations even when you just microwave them. Whether you like the frozen ones or not should correlate almost perfectly. There is supposedely a way to steam the frozen ones over a pan of water in the oven that makes them even better than the restaurant versions but this isn’t haute cuisine we are talking about here and I am not putting that much work into them.
I don’t eat them that often but I do really like them. We don’t have any of the restaurants here in Massachusetts but they were all over when I used to fly to work in Indiana and I always made it a point to stop in at least once a trip. The frozen versions fill in quite well in between times.
Fun facts: White Castle isn’t just the oldest hamburger chain in the U.S., it is also generally accepted to be the first fast food chain founded in 1921 (predating McDonalds by decades) and it is still going reasonably strong. It is also still still family owned and they don’t do franchising which keeps their number of locations relatively small at just over 400.
There was one across the street from us in Brooklyn, and we ate there occasionally. I haven’t eaten there since we moved to the DC area in 1998. I think they’re equal to Krystal, but in my home town there was a place called Blue Circle that was superior.
For those of you without any White Castle locations nearby, the top ranked web reviews agree with me that their frozen versions are extremely similar to the actual location versions. There are some fancy tricks to cooking them if you want to perfect them but the microwave works well enough too.
“They’re pretty similar, although the microwaved versions are not quite as tender or pillowy (you also have to add your own ketchup and pickle). White Castle burgers are always as much about the onions as they are about the beef, and that’s definitely the case here. I also tried following the steaming instructions on the back of the box (8 minutes on the stovetop or 15 in the oven), which is the way to go if you want true-to-store experience. They end up softer and more evenly cooked than in the microwave.”
However, be warned that their hamburgers are extremely polarizing. People generally either love them or hate them and no amount of arguing will get people to change their stance. In this age of sensitivity, it is important to recognize that this diversity exists and people should never be belittled or criticized based on their White Castle orientation.