26th Aug 2021 | Food
National Burger Day is a chance to celebrate one of the most popular of meals, whether its takeaway, sit down or home cooked.
However, an even more significant landmark in burger history is rapidly approaching – which is likely to pass most non-Americans by.
September will mark the centenary of the opening of the White Castle food joint in Wichita, Kansas – start of the world’s first fast food chain.
In many ways White Castle saved the burger as the exposure of poor meat packaging practices in the early years of the 20th century led to a reluctance by Americans to eat ground beef.
Chef Walt Anderson had been running a burger stall from a converted tram when he teamed up with insurance salesman Billy Ingram to try and allay these fears and boost sales of burgers.
To emphasise the commitment to cleanliness and customer care, White Castle restaurants began in small buildings with shiny, stainless steel interiors and staff in crisp clean uniforms.
Outside, the gleaming façade was of white porcelain turrets and ramparts.
White Castle burgers were square shaped so they were easier to pack and to cook. They also had five small holes in them which made cooking quicker, more even and removed the need for the burger to be flipped.
The square shape made them easier to scoop up on a spatula and place in a bun and they became known as “sliders”.
The owners may not have realised it at the time, but their innovations would be the first step in the globalization of fast food and in 2014, Time magazine labelled the slider as the most influential burger of all time.
There are still nearly 400 White Castle restaurants across the States but despite various attempts they have never taken off abroad, instead the international expansion of the burger was down to another entrepreneur.
In 1940 Richard and Maurice McDonald opened their first restaurant in California and developed the speedee service system for standardised manufacture of burgers. Ray Kroc, who supplied their milkshakes, was impressed, joined them as a partner and then bought out the brothers, though he retained their name for the expanding chain of restaurants as well as the golden double arch logo.
Kroc is credited not only with the expansion of McDonalds but also creating the blueprint for the globalization of a product.
He did this through maintaining a tight grip on franchise conditions, aiming to ensure that the burger and staff service you experience in Moscow will be the same as in Manchester, Milwaukee or anywhere else in the world.
There are now nearly 40,000 McDonalds spread across 120 countries serving 68million people every day as well as Burger King, Wimpy, Jollibee, Five Guys plus numerous other fast food joints and the rapidly expanding market of more upmarket individually prepared craft burgers, including an ever—increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options.
It’s all a long way from Kansas and the broken down streetcar Walt Anderson first flipped burgers in!
Vegan falafel burger with houmous
* 1 can of chickpeas
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 2 tsp ground coriander
* 2 tsp ground cumin
* 2 tbsp plain flour
* 2 tbsp vegetable oil
* 150g houmous
* Sourdough buns
1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas then blitz in a food processer.
2. Add the onion, garlic, spices flour and some seasoning, and continue to pulse until combined.
3. Form the mixture, using your hands, into 4 thick patties and fry on each side in a pan with hot oil for a few minutes or until golden.
4. Spread one side of each bun with houmous, top with a falafel burger then pop the remaining bun half on top. You can add lettuce and gherkins if you wish.