How Did Sliders Get Their Name?
America’s love affair with the hamburger goes back quite a ways. To understand how the idea of grilling up a thick, juicy ground beef patty and placing it right in between a soft bun came about, you need to turn the dial back a few centuries. The story of the hamburger as we know it can be traced to the booming beef trade of 12th-century Hamburg, Germany, according to History. Then fast forward to the German integration into the United States around 1848, where they brought many of their cultural festivities as well as traditional foods. Ground steaks, or “Hamburg-style” dishes, began to pop up in local restaurants. The ground steaks made their way onto white bread buns and were introduced to the general public at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. And the rest is hamburger history.
Throughout the years since, people worldwide have played with the recipe substituting the traditional ground beef patty with other proteins such as tuna, elk, bison, or even ostrich. Or, this delicious grilled sandwich can be made with no meat at all, like the plant-based options from Beyond Meat. No matter how you dress it or what you make it out of, a burger is a burger. However, why is it that when you shrink that burger in size it all of a sudden becomes known as a slider? Let’s take a look at the origin of the name for these bite-sized delights.
This fast-food chain is responsible for the first slider
Sliders are a smaller version of a standard hamburger that can still come complete with a patty, toppings, and bun. Although it would seem like an easier route for their name to be “mini-burgers,” instead they were dubbed “sliders.” The name was originally coined by the first fast-food restaurant in the United States, White Castle, which opened its first location in Wichita, Kansas, as per their website. At the time, the tiny mouth-watering burgers sold for 5 cents and were called “sliders” because of how easy they were to eat. Because of its continued popularity among quick-food aficionados, in 2022, White Castle actually made the “1921 Slider” a permanent addition to their menu, as per People. Made with lettuce, pickles, tomato, cheddar cheese, and a small, juicy beef patty, this classic little mouthful is hard not to love.
Another theory is that the moniker was coined by United States sailors in the ’40s, according to InterExchange. At the time, it was said that the small hamburgers were quite fatty and would slide down your throat in just a matter of bites.
Sliders have been a popular menu option in some restaurants because there is the unique ability to play with a number of flavor combinations and treat burgers more as an appetizer as opposed to a main-course selection. This way customers won’t feel guilty about trying two or three or even more.