There are some things that are never polite to discuss in public as they are very heated topics. I have found them to be: religion, politics, and which fast food joint has the best burger.
While places like Shake Shack, Five Guys, and In-N-Out are classic household names, the White Castle slider burger apparently still holds a special place in our hearts. They were named the most influential burger of all time in 2014 by Time, which is quite an accomplishment given their 1921 debut that started the craze.
Now if you have ever eaten a White Castle burger and peeled off the bun, you would have noticed that the square patty has exactly five distinct holes in it.
You may be wondering, why? Well, Wil Fulton, a writer for Thrillist, went on the hunt for the answer to this gastronomic conundrum. As he discovered, they actually serve a functional purpose.
The mystery dates way back to 1954, when a White Castle employee from Cincinnati, Earl Howell, dropped a note into his location’s suggestion box, saying that the burger patties would cook quicker if they were pierced.
His reasoning? White Castle steams their burgers on a grill, so the holes allow steam to better penetrate the stacks of patties, which usually 30 patties tall, and piled onto the grill at once. Since no burgers need flipping, they end up coming out of the kitchen that bit quicker. Plus, the steam also picks up the onion flavor at the bottom layer, allowing it to permeate throughout the stack.
Howell’s idea proved to be useful, and soon the suggestion spread from Ohio to White Castle restaurants across the country. The company facilitates the hole-y creation by puncturing a “meat log” that then gets sliced up into patties to be sold at different locations.
If you enjoy the unique flavor of a White Castle burger, then you can thank Earl Howell since the magic is all in the burger holes. Bon appetite!