Hall of Fame
What do a paperboy, a pinup girl tattoo and a marathon runner have in common? Nothing. Besides our Hall of Fame.
We’ve had 7,645 people try for the Hall since 2001. But only 170 have been inducted. Read the unbelievable stories that got them in.
(2 Cravers Agree)
When the “cravings” hit our facility, they hit it in a big way. We are a nursing facility with 155 residents, and whenever we discuss craving with residents, the response is that they crave a White Castle®. Now it is simple to ease the cravings for a few people, but how do you satisfy 155 residents?
Most of our residents have lived in the south St. Louis area all of their lives, and going to White Castle was a part of their lifestyle. Everyone can tell me a story about “a run” to get a few of these Sliders®, and the stories are great. Maybe it was in their wedding dress, or how they picked up a few for a friend in Arizona and took them on the plane. Everyone says that they would just “have to” have one once in awhile to help with the craving.
Working as an Activity Directory for many years, we tried to accommodate the wishes of residents, so helping with their cravings was a priority. But how do you satisfy the cravings of 155 residents?
This was a major project. And this is how it came about. At “Resident Council,” the residents planned one special meal a month. And occasionally they would bring up their cravings for White Castles. So we decided – “Why not?!!!”
It took some coordination with the dietary department, the nursing staff and our administrator, but we did it.
We planned a time when we had extra volunteers in the building and talked with dietary so that the meal fit into the guidelines the state has, as meal temperatures have to be within a certain range and the meal values (nutrition) also have to be appropriate.
But we worked it out. On the morning of the meal, we would go and order over 300 White Castles, arranging pickup at exactly 10:45. The dietary would have the kitchen set up, and the volunteers would go to get them.
The local White Castle was undaunted. They would always have them packed in large cardboard boxes to keep them warm, and would help with the pickup, so the run would go quickly. They even supplied us with some of their paper hats so that the staff could wear them when serving. Our only problem was keeping the staff from “taking just one.”
It was great; everyone had White Castles for lunch, a story to tell their families, and the cravings were satisfied one more time.
A bonus to this was the fact that our volunteers were teenagers, boys from a Catholic high school who were fulfilling their requirements for community service. Our residents felt that they had passed the cravings onto another generation, as you can imagine the stories these boys told when they got back to school about picking up an order for 300+ White Castles.
(6 Cravers Agree)
Michael & Jim Borndholdt
St. Louis, MO
My dad and White Castle® (WC) were both born in the 1920s. Each has held up amazingly well over eight decades. For daily exercise, Dad walks two miles to “his” White Castle and orders a standard fare of two White Castles with extra onions, a cake donut and coffee, “for here.”
He eats, watches the traffic drive by and then walks the two miles back home. He loves the ambience of his WC restaurant located on Lindbergh Road in south St. Louis County, Missouri. Unfortunately, his favorite building is scheduled for demolition in February to make way for a newer WC on the same spot. Dad requested that his favorite booth be retained and was promised the booth due to his faithful patronage of the restaurant.
He’s currently negotiating with my mom on where to place his White Castle shrine in their house. She likes White Castle, but is not overly impressed with the idea of a steel table and white Masonite booth chairs in her kitchen. They will likely compromise and locate the historic collection in another room.
Attached is a picture of my dad in front of his White Castle. The photo depicts two significant areas of heritage for him, German ancestry and White Castle. The cane is for play purposes only. He once walked into the restaurant and teased the waitress by hiding the cane and covertly blowing the attached plastic horn. He’d look innocently around like nothing had happened when the waitress heard the muted shrill toot. After she returned to filling his order, he’d sound it again, causing the victim to look around in confused consternation.
Mom doesn’t always appreciate Dad’s “childlike” humor, but to me it confirms that he retains the youthful, cheerful attitude I’ve treasured my whole life. Through the years, dad and White Castle have stood proudly, continually adding small amounts of joy to others. Though each portion is small, the cumulative goodwill is huge.
(8 Cravers Agree)
Helen & Barry Clateman
For 45 years my wife and I have been enjoying White Castle® hamburgers. In fact, for her birthday every year she asks me to take her to White Castle. So, because it has become a tradition for us every January 30th, I decided it would be a great place to hold her 60th birthday party.
I started planning six months before and got in touch with Mr. John Chin at the Woodside, New York, office, whose invaluable help made the party at the 110 Huntington location a great success.
My wife was surprised. I hired a great band, there were 62 guests, and as always, the food was great, and I think she should be placed in the Hall of Fame.
(18 Cravers Agree)
Game Refuge Guys: Bobby Llereza, Bob Montgomery and Brian Colin
As you no doubt have already guessed, we design video games for a living. Several months ago, while testing and evaluating the capabilities of a new 3-D “game development engine.” I asked the artist-modelers to create some structures that were both architecturally unique and instantly recognizable. I was thinking along the lines of the Chicago Water Tower or the John Hancock building, but the next time I dropped by Bobby Liereza’s office, I found that instead, he had elected to create a model of a favorite lunchtime source for gamers on the go… White Castle®! (Delicious and thoroughly addictive taste aside, we generally prefer a Sliders® lunch because it allows us to eat and play fast-paced network games at the same time!)
Because at that time we were working on a project that had a fantasy theme, I jokingly suggested to the guys that they take one of our goblin characters and have him run around their virtual White Castle grabbing all the Sliders he could find. Unbeknownst to me, another artist-modeler (Bob Montgomery) took me at my word, and several days later I was amazed to see “Gobby” jogging around the landscape looking for virtual Sliders to snarf up. We couldn’t stop there, of course, so over the past several months, strictly for our own amusement, we have continued to develop our own little Slider-Gobbling Race Game that is, in its own way, shaping up to be almost as addictive as the sandwich we all know and love.
I’ll bet a lot of your other Crave candidates enjoy their Sliders at the office, but how many of them are so obsessed that they eat, work and play with their food in both the real world and a virtual reality all at the same time?!?!
In any case, on behalf of Slider-loving nerds everywhere, keep up the great work.
(12 Cravers Agree)
Elizabeth, Dan, Michael, and Jennifer Koziatek
St. Charles, MO
I want to nominate my husband, Dan Koziatek, and my brother-in-law, Mike Koziatek, for the Craver’s Hall of Fame. They are the most devoted followers I know!
For as long as I have known my husband Dan (which is almost 12 years now), he has had a special affinity for Whiteys. On one of the first dates we had in college, the subject of White Castles came up. He asked if I had ever had one, and I said I had once. But being a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South), I wasn’t much into Whiteys. He was crushed!
He told me how when he was in high school in St. Louis, he and his buddies used to drive to the nearest White Castle® every Friday night and order the exact same thing and park in the exact same spot to eat together. Dan was determined to show me a good Whiteys time, so he gathered a friend of mine and her date and we piled into the car – at that exact moment – and drove all the way from Columbia, Missouri to the closest White Castle outside of Kansas City, Missouri. That’s about a two-hour drive! And it was the middle of the night! We got to the restaurant and – horror of all horrors – it was closed until morning.
Being the devotee that Dan is, we waited in the parking lot for a few hours until it opened. We were the first in the drive-thru for a steamy breakfast of Whiteys. I still wasn’t convinced enough to love the unique taste.
As the years passed, Dan and I were married, and we lived in Kansas City for our newlywed years. Slowly, Dan changed my mind, and I was turned on to the taste of Whiteys, even though the closest one was a 10-mile drive into the city. I changed my ways and became a Whiteys devotee.
By 2002, we had moved to St. Louis. I heard a spot on the radio advertising Valentine’s Day dinners at White Castles. I knew this was the perfect Valentine’s Day surprise for Dan. I called the information line and found out I had to make reservations. I reserved a table for two. We arrived at the White Castle on Valentine’s Day and were escorted to our table by a maitre d’. The tables had flowers on them, candles and even tablecloths. We were handed a special menu and then placed our order with the waiter. We couldn’t believe we were getting such full-service at a White Castle! The waiter brought our meal to us on paper plates and had us pose for a special souvenir Polaroid photo. It was one of the most memorable Valentine’s Days we have ever had.
Now Dan and I have a daughter named Katie (who is, by the way, totally unrelated to that Valentine’s Day at White Castle). She is only a year old and has already had her first Slider®. She loved it. But I was a little afraid of the – ahem – aftereffects, so I didn’t let her eat too many. After she was done, I tried to get her to finish the rest of her dinner, but she refused to eat it until I put it into a White Castle box. She happily ate her green beans, as long as they were in the Slider box.
As much as my husband Dan loves Whiteys, my brother-in-law Mike is maniacal. He has been in love with White Castle almost his whole life. How much in love, you ask? Let me count the ways.
Mike has organized not one but TWO White Castle Belly Bomber Blow-Out Tours. What exactly is a BBBOT? Well, in 1994 Mike and 18 of his closest friends caravanned to every single White Castle in the St. Louis metro area – in one day. In those days, that was a total of 21 restaurants. The deal was that everyone had to eat something at each restaurant, even if it was only a drink or milk shake. We had our photo taken in front of each restaurant, with a chalkboard stating the chronological number of the pit stop. Restaurant managers were so surprised to see our tour that they started asking which restaurant was next on our list and called ahead to alert the kitchen for us. And just like a rock star concert, our tour included a commemorative T-shirt listing each stop on back. It was a blast! Mike planned a second tour the following year.
Mike got married in 2002. He told his wife that he wanted White Castle® at the wedding reception. His wife compromised by surprising him with a trip to White Castle after the ceremony, before the reception. She rented a trolley bus to take the entire wedding party to White Castle where Mike bought a case of 30 to go.
Remember that Valentine’s Day I mentioned above? On that same day, Jennifer took Mike to White Castle for a surprise Valentine’s Day meal. One of the local TV stations was there and interviewed Mike and Jennifer about their romantic meal. We were so jealous that Mike got to be a Whiteys spokesman instead of us.
Now if you don’t consider the Koziatek brothers true Crave Hall of Famers, I don’t know who is!
(29 Cravers Agree)
Eli & Sonya Lawson
Our story begins back in 1983. I was only thirteen. My mother and father had been divorced for about four years and were attempting to make another go at it. My mother and I lived in the St. Louis area at the time, growing up around White Castles® my entire life. My father had moved out to California, so my mother and I packed up and went out there. It was then that I met the beautiful “California” child. She took my breath away even at the age of 13, but what did I know, I was a kid, right? Well, read on.
We had a great relationship, however, my mother and father’s was not going so well. So, needless to say we moved back to Missouri in 1985. I was heart-broken and so was she. Her family was natives of Indiana, also home to several White Castles. Now the years did pass, oh we did talk now and then. I married, had two children, but she never did.
Moving ahead to 1999, my wife and I had several “rocky” years and things were not working out for us. We decided to part ways around November of 1999. Just for kicks, I decided to look up Sonya and see how her life was going. We talked for just a few weeks, and then I flew her back to St. Louis for a visit… here’s where the story kick’s in. After the long flight from California to St. Louis, she, of course, was hungry. We decided to have a bite before heading back to my house to meet everyone. She stated, “Oh my gosh, you have White Castles here. I’ve got to go to White Castle. I love that place. My family eats there every time we go back home to Indiana.” Of course being kind of heart, I immediately took her to the nearest White Castle I could find. I also enjoyed a few Sliders® as well.
The next few days were awesome. We talked about everything that had happened in each others lives. It was as if time stood still just for us. Then the days flew by and it was time for her to return home. Before going to the airport, she just had to make one more stop by White Castle. Little did she know that this White Castle would change her life forever. We ordered and sat down in the middle of the diner. It was then that my heart started pounding, my hands began to sweat. Could I do it? This is not a movie; this is real life.
I had to choke down a Slider and act as if everything was normal; I then stood up and gathered everyone’s attention. Here it goes, I thought. “Could I have everyone’s attention”, I loudly and nervously exclaimed. “I have known this woman for 16 years, and forces we could not control took her away from me once. I’m not about to let it happen again.” I then got down on one knee and slowly popped open the case. “I have never stopped loving you since the first time I saw you. I do not ever want to let you go again. Sonya Rolland, would you marry me?”
The hustle and bustle of the everyday White Castle was at a standstill. You could have heard an onion hit the floor, it was so quiet. “Yes, yes! I will.” She cried as tears were streaming down her face.
Everyone started clapping, then congratulating her. We were married in January 2000, and have been married for over four years now. We are just as happy now as we were on our wedding day. We have a beautiful three year-old daughter together. She is our princess and you are our “Castle.” White Castle, that is. Thank you for affording me the stage to set one of the most perfect proposals.
My wife tells everyone about the proposal at White Castle, and then has to explain the story. We now live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and our closest White Castle is now in my hometown of Farmington, Missouri. Every time we go home to visit we eat there. And, every chance we get, we return to the Festus, Missouri, White Castle where our new life began. So, in short, my wife’s Crave for White Castle set the stage for my Crave for her. Thank you.
(2 Cravers Agree)
The year: 2003. The place: a seaside bar near my apartment in southern Maine. The scene: casual conversation with a Slider® virgin. “So what type of vegetarian are you?” my curious acquaintance asked.
“I’m a vegan… a “CRAVEgan.”
“A who?” My new friend appears puzzled.
“A ‘crave-vegan;’ I eat neither meat nor dairy, but reserve the right to embrace my crave for the Castle on my semi-annual trips back to Kentucky.”
Obviously having rarely ventured out of the beautiful state of Maine, my new friend inquired, “What castle?”
“White Castle®, of course.” Although Maine has no Castles, surely he was not unfamiliar. I mean, had he even heard of Elvis?
“Oh, yeah, those little square burgers like Krystal’s. When I fly to visit by Grandma in Florida…”
My mouth dropped in horror. I closed my eyes, inhaled through my nose to calm myself and raised my open hand toward the infidel to signal my refusal to listen any further. “I will not tolerate such ridiculous and blasphemous speech, Amos. Be silent, poor and unlearned soul.” I cleared my throat. “Allow me to enlighten thee in the ways of the Castle.” The inexperienced Yankee listened eagerly as I explained that just as there are apples and oranges in this world, so are there American eateries and (bow head) the White Castle.
Amos nodded in affirmation, somewhat more curious than before. I went on to explain my “craveganism” including how, for health reasons, I adopted a vegan diet two years prior. “Howevah (as they say in Maine), every time I travel to Kentucky to visit my family, I get the crave – that urge, beyond both explanation and reason, to indulge in the steam-grilled goodness and one-size French fry-ness of White Castle.” Amos shifted in his bar stool, moving closer with intrigue. “You see, Sliders® are a precious part of who I am; it’s in my blood. So regardless of whatever strict diet I maintain, it would be cultural sacrilege to deny the Castle a place on my plate. It’s like my Uncle Sissy always said: ‘Sliders are like culinary couture.’” I always remembered him being a smart man.
With eyes wide, Amos smiled as if he were an amateur gumshoe who just cracked his first “crave case.” “I understand,” he proclaimed.
In turn, I smiled, ordered a hummus sandwich (although my mouth was now watering for a #2 pickle with a Big Red) and a beer from the barkeep. I felt like a wandering prophet spreading the good word of the Castle to those in want and wait of its life-changing power, whether they know it or not.
(8 Cravers Agree)
Ben & Timm Slota
It is my honor to nominate my father, Timm Slota, for the White Castle® Hall of Fame. His love for White Castles started as a young boy. He was the influence that allowed me and my brother and sister to develop an appreciative palate for Sliders®.
My dad tells stories of stopping at White Castle in Whiting, Indiana, and getting a Sack of 10, taking them to church with him inside his coat and using the radiant heat from the steaming Sliders to keep warm on winter days. My father moved from Whiting to Bloomington, Indiana, to attend Indiana University. Sadly, Bloomington was a town without a White Castle. My father met my mother at IU, and they settled in Bloomington. My dad was able to have White Castles only on family vacations and trips home to Whiting. My father was lost with no White Castle in his city of residence. Imagine Michael Jordan without basketball, Mozart without an orchestra. My father was an orphan looking for his home. Then in the mid 1980s a wonderful thing happened. Ground was broken in Bloomington for a White Castle!
My father could hardly wait until opening day. One evening, he happened to meet a local newspaper reporter at a get-together put on by mutual friends. My dad, not knowing the reporter was always looking for fodder for articles, struck up a conversation about White Castle. He told the reporter how we had stopped at the White Castle headquarters on our family vacation. He also explained the history of White Castle, and how important they were in restaurant ingenuity. The invention of the spatula specifically made for burgers and not pancakes, paper hats and a stainless steel interior were some of the examples he shared with the reporter.
They spoke for hours about White Castle, and the reporter could not believe all the interesting stories my father had about Sliders. The reporter, Greg Dawson, knew an article had to be written, so the next day he produced a Pulitzer-Prize-worthy composition about my father and his love and knowledge of White Castle. Mr. Dawson turned in the story to his editor, who declined to run it because he thought no such man existed. Mr. Dawson assured his editor that there really was a man who loved White Castle this much and knew White Castle’s history.
My father was shocked, amazed and a little misty-eyed when he read the newspaper on May 17, 1984. The article ran on the front page of The Herald Telephone, the only printed news publication in Bloomington, Indiana. Many of his friends knew of his love for White Castle, some did not. All were pleasantly surprised to read the article about my father.
My dad does not know that I am nominating him for this prestigious honor, but I am sure that he would list getting into the White Castle Hall of Fame as one of his proudest achievements. His wedding day and the birth of his three children would be close to the top as well. The year 2004 was the 20th anniversary of that newspaper article. Those of us that know him can think of no better way to start 2005 than to see my father, Timm Slota, inducted into the White Castle Hall of Fame.
(5 Cravers Agree)
John Rickhoff & Lynn Rickhoff-Giardina
St. Louis, MO
A Rickhoff family tradition begins at 18th and Olive Street, site of the first White Castle® established in St. Louis. John Rickhoff’s father has just gotten off work. A German immigrant who lacks a formal education, John’s father possesses an admirable work ethic, a keen intellect and sense of fun, and the habit of finding something to admire in everyone. He has gathered his children and their friends, and they are all perched on stools in the new White Castle. The rules are simple: Enjoy each other’s company and have as many hamburgers as you want. An invitation to visit the new White Castle with John’s father is guaranteed fun and quickly becomes highly prized in the neighborhood. The White Castle manager and servers delight in seeing the truck filled with neighborhood kids pull up out front, and lifelong friendships are formed across the counter.
John Rickhoff has just graduated from law school, the first in his family to be educated beyond the 8th grade. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity for an education, and he celebrates at White Castle with his father and their friends on both sides of the counter. John’s White Castle friends have watched him grow into a fine man like the father they all admire, and they become his first clients. They see him off for overseas service in World War II, and they are there to welcome him home.
John and his four children are seated on stools in the White Castle at Hampton and Chippewa. It’s the family’s Saturday afternoon ritual, and the rules are the same as they were 30 years ago when they were established by John’s father: Have fun and order as many hamburgers as you want. As soon as each hamburger on its white paper plate is consumed, John’s daughter and sons beg their father for another. And John, who is lord of the castle in their estimation, calls out in lordly tones, “Another hamburger for the young lady (or gentleman)!” Even as a child, John’s daughter understands that the servers’ cheerful greetings and service reveal their delight in the ritual, which may even equal her own. And so another generation makes friends over the counter.
There are seven children and two in-laws enjoying the Rickhoff White Castle tradition. After successfully practicing law for 27 years, John has become a circuit judge. His father, beloved by his family and friends, is gone. John has honored his father by becoming a man who earns the respect of his family and friends, just as his father did. A White Castle visit is a must before John’s son ships off for service in Vietnam, and the farewell gift to the son’s new wife is a gift-wrapped White Castle burger as a reminder that there will be many more visits to come.
Four of John’s children have moved to Texas, an otherwise wonderful state but unfortunately deprived of White Castle establishments. John maintains the family ritual with regular shipments of White Castles, which have become the centerpiece of popular “St. Louis” theme parties. Whenever one of the children returns to St. Louis, the visit invariably begins with a visit to White Castle on the way home from the airport.
John’s granddaughter picks up White Castles in preparation for a visit to her beloved grandfather. Another generation has fallen in love with the family tradition. John’s father was 44 and in the prime of his life when he took John’s siblings and their friends, to White Castle for the first time, and John cherishes 75 years of memories of happy visits to White Castle. John loved and admired the father who gathered everyone in sight for fun trips for hamburgers. John’s children and grandchildren love and admire John in just the same way.
In another 15 years, it will be 2020… and there is every reason to believe the family tradition will continue.