Belly buster… gut bomb… slider… sound appealing? While the U.S. has quite the history of greasy fast food, “sliders” took the meaning of greasy to a whole new level. Fortunately for the reputation of American cuisine (and for the health of our hearts), sliders have evolved from miniature grease bombs to elegant culinary creations and now appeal to people of all backgrounds and tastes.
What exactly is a slider and where did it come from?
Sliders refer to miniature hamburgers. The name originated in the 1940s, when sailors in the U.S. Navy would refer to mini-burgers as “sliders” because of their extreme greasiness. In just one or two bites, the burger would just slide right down! The slider was first created at White Castle, a popular American fast food chain restaurant. White Castle became famous for their cheap and greasy mini-burgers and the tradition continues to this day.
The White Castle System of Eating Houses was founded in Witchita, Kansas in 1921. As the oldest hamburger fast food chain in America, the centerpiece of the menu was none other than a five-cent burger. To promote their famed burger, White Castle would run periodic promotional advertisements in local newspapers with coupons for five burgers for ten cents. As time passed, the burger kept getting smaller and the price kept getting higher, but popularity never waned. In fact, White Castle was the first hamburger chain to sell a billion hamburgers. While White Castle is an American icon, franchises have been sold all over the world including Japan, Malaysia, and Mexico.
The Modern-Day Slider
As interesting as it is to reminisce about these historical mini-burgers, we are now in the era of the gourmet slider. Around 2007 is when the image of a slider began to evolve into a much different culinary experience. Now sliders are featured at some of the most modern and upscale restaurants with expert chefs constantly inventing new combinations. So long traditional beef patty, and hello chicken, pork, and veal!
The slider did wonders for the restaurant industry. For diet-conscious foodies, the idea of a small gourmet burger is appealing because it’s less food, for more enjoyment. However, some critics view sliders as just an excuse for chefs to sell small buns, and even smaller portions of meat, at very high prices. Economics aside, you can’t deny that eating a delicious and artfully-crafted mini-burger is just plain fun. Ordering sliders instead of an average sized hamburger also allows you to try several different varieties of hamburgers. Because of their small size, sliders are often served in pairs.
With celebrities like Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, and Martha Stewart now championing the slider on their shows, the hype and popularity surrounding these tiny treats show no sign of letting up soon.
Interested in creating your own specialty slider? Check out these recipes for inspiration.
Finally, sliders don’t just stop at the appetizer or even the entree, they have become desserts as well.