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.
(180 Cravers Agree)
Cottage Grove, MN
This story started way back in the war year 1943. Our family was transferred to St. Paul, Minnesota when our dad was in an essential industry for the American Railroad industry. With a wife, four sons and a railcar full of possessions, dad embarked on finding a new home, job and totally different city living versus North Dakota small prairie town living. Because the train brought all of us to St. Paul at five a.m. in the morning, breakfast was a White Castle nearby, which had great coffee, rolls, baked bean crocks and great little hamburgers.
The sight of four hungry kids, weary from overnight travel must have been remarkable to the staff at the Castle 25 (then the old mini-Castle) downtown, it is now gone. The fours boys were mesmerized at the two grills of thirty hamburgers steaming away behind the glass. That Castle had six or eight stools, a stand-up perimeter window counter and the usual take-out station. The price of one slider was a mere twelve cents. Just watching the operator smoothing out the bed of onions, placing the thirty meat patties on the now bubbling bed of aromatic goodness, topped with the buns made the boys’ anticipation almost unbearable. Finally, it all came out on nice heavy China plates, steaming hot. Making Minnesota’s newest citizens a banquet on a budget that is talked about even to this day.
Now, at seventy-four years of age, I cannot drive by a White Castle. The sixty-something price is no barrier at this stage of our lives, the coffee is still the best on the planet and the people who are your storefront greeters make every trip like another trip back home in 1943. Ironically, I grew up to be a Railway Express delivery truck driver in St. Paul in 1955. Yes, two of my stops were the first White Castle of my memory and the University Avenue at Lexington store. Because the hamburger buns were baked in St. Louis back then, every morning I would get my truck fully loaded with the large master cartons of fresh baked Castle buns.
The bosses would load up my truck, slap a handful of waybills in my hand and tell me “get those buns out to the White Castles…fast!” I did what I was told. On very cold mornings, I would back up closely to the delivery kitchen doors, rush the bun boxes inside then relish a most welcome hot coffee and often a handful of hot sliders or a breakfast danish. Nothing has changed. The “old timers” that recall my visits now mostly retired or gone, would remind me often of those great homey visits. To this day, I feel more like an employee or family member than a customer. I carry a small bank in my Toyota. To this day, often bailing out the shift managers at Castle 25 when change gets scarce.
During the thirty years traveling with the Harmonicats (the Original Worldly Famous trio that recorded a twenty-million hit recording “Peg O’ My Heart”) my eyes would always search for a White Castle especially when in the Eastern half of the country. What an adventure! I treated some fans to hamburgers on Long Island, NY to the west suburbs of Chicago-land. All were remarkable, somewhat different, but all very well run and enjoyed by the Harmonicats and their many fans and friends. I would often mention the Castle from the stage, evoking lots of comments during and after the shows. I really became your unofficial ambassador, and own the title to this day.
Under the strong guidance of “Super Woman” Heidi Kachel (general manager) the tradition of hot food, great service and welcoming traditions continue. When the original corner location was replaced with a new building, I took it upon myself to photograph virtually every brick that came down in demolishing the old building, which was like Fort Knox one contractor told me. Yes, I have a photo of the first customers, a senior couple, enjoying their favorite treat. The entire photo collection was put on a CD and given to the managers. Long live the White Castle legends!
(47 Cravers Agree)
My first memories of White Castle date back to the late 1950’s, when I was a young boy. What a treat it was for my parents to drive us from Columbus, Indiana to Indianapolis just for some Castles. I have fond memories of and remember our family always looking forward to these trips. The special trips north for Castles continued over the years as I had a family of my own. My children seemed to enjoy them as much as I did. Eating them in the car on the way home was fun for everyone. When I learned that a White Castle would be built in Columbus, Indiana I was ecstatic. No more trips to Indianapolis as we were going to have our own White Castle!
I have been frequenting White Castle number 23 two, sometimes three times per day since its opening in 1983. Every day before and after work it’s a stop for coffee; I love White Castle coffee. On my days off work it may be a third trip for some Sliders.
While on vacation, I find myself looking for White Castle restaurants so as not to extend any withdrawal symptoms. I have adjusted my route frequently in order to hit a White Castle on the road. I often reward my associates at my work with a ten sack or a Crave Case for a special occasion or a job well done. They are always pleased and appreciative. Occasionally I take a few Castles and onion chips to my 93 year old mom. After all these years she still has the Crave. For her it’s the flavor of the Original Slider with no cheese please.
Holidays bring me an ample supply of Craver gift cards from family and friends. It’s no surprise to my daughters when they ask me where I would like to have my birthday lunch I respond “White Castle.” I own a White Castle ball cap and a Slyder Fest tee shirt as well as have collected all the coffee mugs that have been available for purchase at the Columbus, Indiana Castle. On several occasions I have tried the customer holiday recipes, even coming up with my own recipes at home.
Over the years I have come to know the Columbus White Castle management and team members on a first name basis. Many times as I enter I hear “Steve’s here start a fresh pot” or “We saw you pull in, we have already started a fresh pot for you.” Besides being a true Craver, it’s the customer recognition that brings me back as well as the quality and service. It is always fresh and hot! White Castle affects my life every day. It’s a priority. I love my White Castle. It’s what I Crave. Perhaps I should consider an application for employment.
(56 Cravers Agree)
On a recent trip back to Chicago (which is where we are originally from) my wife, kids and I stopped at the Merrillville, Indiana White Castle on I-65 to pick up our usual Crave Case plus a few extra cheeseburgers and fries. It was while we were standing in line for our order that I noticed the information about the Cravers Hall of Fame so I figured “what the heck, I grew up with White Castle I will give it a try…how hard could it be.” Well, let me tell you, this has not been an easy task, as I have found myself writing and re-writing this story several times now and every time I would try to write my story, it would bring back so many memories and emotions that it really became hard to write. I never realized until I started writing this, just how much White Castle has been a part of my life.
It all started back when I was about six years old when White Castle was a very special and magical place for me, because it was where my grandfather would take me for our special time together every Saturday morning. I would wait on the stoop of our house for my grandfather to pick me up, and off we’d go to the White Castle on Manheim Road and Grand Avenue in Franklin Park, Illinois. That’s where I grew up. At the Castle I would get my four cheeseburgers on the white china plate and a chocolate shake. Sometimes my grandfather would let me get six cheeseburgers. That was a treat. The time we would spend together there was just magical and I still have a hard time even today at 56 years old, going into a White Castle without seeing me and my grandfather sitting there together.
My grandfather was everything to me, and that tradition continued until about seven years ago when my grandfather was put into a nursing home, which by the way was just down the street from the Franklin Park White Castle. So now it was my turn to stop and pick up a sack of White Castles and go see my Pop. Of course, when he’d see me he’d get a big smile on his face and say “Did you get my sliders Tom?” and I’d say “yes Pop I got them.” That was the last thing I remember him saying to me, for he passed away shortly after.
That same White Castle became like a second home to me all through my teen years, and especially once I started driving. I went to High School in Franklin Park at East Leyden High and White Castle was our hangout spot. I took all my buddies there, heck I would even take my dates there. I especially remember when our church youth group would head over for sliders after our youth meetings, and we would line the back window of my 1969 mustang with as many empty slider boxes we could. And man, that smell of White Castles would be in my car all week long.
It was shortly after my grandfather passed away, that my father died. My mom had the wake and funeral at the Franklin Park funeral home, which was right across the street from White Castle. For those three days, I can’t tell you how many sliders my brothers and I put away. I still can’t believe how much of my youth was spent at that Castle in Franklin Park, Illinois. Shortly after my dad’s passing, when my wife and I got married and I finished college, I was hired by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), as the mid-west facilities manager for 304 stores, where I worked out of both the Chicago and Louisville corporate offices. I would find myself driving back and forth between Chicago and Louisville sometimes twice a week. So, to help me with that drive I would stop at the White Castle on I-65 just south of Indianapolis, where I would get my four double cheeseburgers, six cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake…that would be just enough to get me to my destination. That tradition continued without variation for seven years.
Here I was working for KFC, but I had to have my White Castles. After leaving KFC due to illness, I went to work for the Wheaton School District in Wheaton, Illinois and worked with my best friend at the school district and again, White Castle played a major part in my life. That White Castle became our home away from home for Tom and me. We made it a tradition that every Friday about six of us would head to the White Castle in Carol Stream, where I continued with my tradition of four double cheeseburgers, six cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake (gee, there seems to be a pattern here!). Tom and I shared some good memories there until recently when unexpectedly, Tom passed away. He was only six months older than me, and together we shared some great memories and White Castle, again, was a big part of that. Both Tom and I loved to fish, so we always made sure before leaving to go fishing, we would stop for a sack (or two) regardless of what time it was.
About that same time, my wife was given a devastating double blow, as first she lost her mother to Alzheimer’s and then was diagnosed herself with breast cancer. It was during those difficult times that we left the Chicago area and moved to be with her sister in the Atlanta area, which was her mother’s dying wish. That brings us to the present. No one ever told us that there were no White Castles in Georgia.
What would we now do without our White Castles? We were so desperate we went online to find the nearest location. Well, it turns out that the nearest White Castle is in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which by the way is just a little over a three-hour drive, one way. But you know what? When you’ve got to have one, you’ve got to have one or should I say a sack. We of course (my wife, kids and I) make that three-hour drive to get a Crave Case and a few extra cheeseburgers, we then head back to the Atlanta area where we eat sliders all week. I’m the envy of all the guys at work at lunch, I pull out my White Castle sliders but I don’t share! I enjoy the fact that I have been able to share my love for White Castle with my kids and to hand that tradition down to them. They also know better than to touch my double cheeseburgers because I tell them “I don’t care if they sit in the fridge for a week, no one touches my double cheeseburgers.”
As I said in the beginning, I have written and re-written this story several times and every time there would be something else I would remember and then a flood of emotions would come over me. I never realized until I started writing this, how White Castle has been a major part of my life and even if nothing comes of my story, it has brought back incredible memories of those who are now gone from my life, those who are still here and all the special times I’ve had with family and friends growing up with White Castle.
Thank you White Castle for a lifetime of wonderful memories and great food! I’ve found myself choking back a few tears several times while writing this, but again it has helped me remember those who I have loved, those who are gone and we all had one thing in common, we all loved White Castle!
(265 Cravers Agree)
Elk River, MN
My name is Jim Kreml and I am forty-five years old and have been a loyal White Castle Craver my entire life. The name of my story is Midnight Run. It is about me and my best friend Don. As a child growing up in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, my friend Don and I would sleep out in our tent just about every weekend in the summer. About 65% of the time as midnight drew we would sneak out of our tent, get on our bikes and make the eighteen mile round trip journey to the Brooklyn Park White Castle location. Back then the burgers were a dime! Don and I would each get a sack full and ride back to our tent before anyone even knew we were gone! The world was sure a different place back then, a lot safer and a lot more innocent. I’m afraid to say we probably wouldn’t be able to make that “midnight run” today.
I am saddened to say that Don’s mom passed away on July 24th, 2009 – she was eighty-five years old. I got to spend some time with Don shortly after his mom’s passing and I took him to White Castle for lunch. We sat in the restaurant, remembering her and all the times we snuck out of our tent to make that midnight run. We laughed about how mad she would have been at us had she caught us before we got back to our tent. We made that run for about six years, from 6th grade to graduation and although our bikes turned into cars that final year, it was a time in our lives that we will never forget. Being with Don at that White Castle in that moment brought back some cherished memories of a simpler time — when two boys could get on their bikes in the middle of the night without worry and ride about eighteen miles to get Castles and cheeseburgers.
You see to us, White Castle is more than just a place to eat; it truly is a big part of our lives and even if it was just for a moment or two at lunch, being together at our favorite place helped us cope, reflect, smile and laugh. I’m sure Don would agree with me when I say “thank you for being a part of our lives, the happy and the sad.”
(285 Cravers Agree)
I am Willy Veliky and I represent the embodiment of the White Castle spirit and a lifetime of devotion to Sliders, especially double cheeseburgers. While many can point to a Castle moment or individual experience, I have moments by the sack. Sure, there were the early days when good parentage provided me with regular visits to the original Castles at five points in Union and Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Many a late night was capped off with a Castle Chug (you get the idea) and a fish with cheese chaser. But it was only after I came into my own that my cravings took flight. Maybe it’s the cross-country trip where we went 200 miles off-course just to see the Castle in St. Louis. Or when I bribed one of the employees at the Edison Castle to sell me his hat – and remember this was back in the old days when the only way to get authentic Castle gear was to work there.
Then there was the personal Valentine’s Day celebration with tablecloths, flowers and china – hey that was five years before the geniuses over there in the marketing department got paid to think of it! But what ultimately sets me apart from your average White Castle fanatic is the Tale of the Manburger. Hearing that a new White Castle was opening in Greenbrook, NJ, I laid out my plan. Yes, I was going to be there for opening day and be sure I would be the first one in line. The culmination of my plan was my homemade Castle gear that I was photographed by a local newspaper – the newspaper that gave me my now legendary moniker. Well, I Willy Manburger Veliky, am now fifty and as long as they keep building Castles – both the building and the burgers – I will be happy to resurrect my starring role and give each and any of them their opening props.
(144 Cravers Agree)
On behalf of the Castro family: Theyer Castro and his sister Gretchen Straker.
I would like to introduce you to my brother, Sgt Theyer Castro who is the youngest of nine siblings born and raised in Queens, New York. On July 6, 2009, Theyer who was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi was in a horrific car accident. He was pinned in his SUV and had to be extracted with the jaws of life. The car was totaled and he was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and was given 72 hours to live due to his traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma, unresponsive and placed on a ventilator.
Still in a coma after three weeks in Hattiesburg, he was finally airlifted from Forrest General Hospital ICU in Mississippi to the VA Palo Alto facilities ICU in California. At a family conference meeting with the doctors on August 24, 2009 one doctor said “He is still in a coma and is not showing any signs of purposeful movement and on the Glasgow coma scale he is at a one.” This was very low. He went on to say “his ability to swallow is down to once every six minutes, which is not enough to remove the feeding tube due to his inability to wallow.” Needless to say, the family was disappointed to hear such discouraging news about our little brother. One of Theyer’s sisters Shumbey (who was on the conference call) was especially sad as she was at the airport on her way to Palo Alto with her brother’s favorite food in tow — White Castle hamburgers. She was very anxious to see her brother. The last time she saw him, he was in Hattiesburg on a ventilator fighting for his life.
Around noon on August 25, Shumbey arrived and got the chance to see her beloved brother Theyer and to bring him his favorite food in the world (and believe me he has been all over the world, as he is in the Air Force and he personally loves to travel and eat). She removed the Slider from its box and placed it under his nose, the next thing she knew he inhaled and then exhaled. Suddenly, his mouth started flexing, he started swallowing and moving his lips as though he had just taken a big bite of his favorite burger. Then surprisingly after a few minutes he broke through his coma and said “Hello everyone.” His niece burst into tears and bolted for the door and began hyperventilating. The doctor and a social worker who happened to be in the hallway outside his room rushed in thinking something was wrong with Theyer. His niece Sarina (Shumbey’s daughter) could not speak as she was still in shock. Theyer’s mother told her to calm down and keep her composure because she, like the doctors thought something terrible happened to Theyer. She finally whispered “Theyer spoke to me!” At this time the room was flooded with doctors, nurses and social workers. They could not believe what happened, because just the day before we were told that he was unresponsive and in a vegetative state.
When I received the call from my mother telling me the story about a White Castle hamburger and how he broke through his coma because of his love for them, I said I had to call the White Castle headquarters and thank them for helping our family member come back to us.
On behalf of the entire Castro family, we thank you for your unwavering commitment to providing those delicious burgers that a lot of America have grown up with. Without those honored traditional recipes, who knows how long it would have taken my brother to come back to us. So, we collectively say keep doing what you are doing and don’t change a thing.
(409 Cravers Agree)
My name is Logan Ward and I have craved White Castle hamburgers as long as I can remember. My story starts as a child of the sixties and seventies living in Louisville. Back in the day, more mothers stayed home with their children than they do these days. With that, moms would prepare dinner nearly every night for the family. My mom stayed home and on occasion when she did not fix supper, we would go out to eat. I was five years old at the time and I’m sure we had been out to eat many times before but I must not have remembered the experience.
My first memory of eating out was with my dad taking the family to White Castle. I had no idea what White Castle was about and did not know what to expect. On the way in my dad’s black 1958 Chevy, he told us that White Castle had these little square hamburgers and told us stories of how he would go there in high school and eat 15 to 20 of these burgers. My dad told us that he loved these little burgers so much and was sure that we would too. We went to the seventh street location in Louisville. The building was gleaming white and very clean looking. When we got our burgers, I thought how cool it was that they came in those little boxes. I remember that the boxes reminded us to not be a litter bug and I had to ask my dad what that meant. Upon taking the burger out of the box, I remember how hot and steamy it was. My first bite was an experience I will never forget. The onions, the mustard, the soft bun and of course the square meat were a fantastic eating delight. I was hooked on the very first bite.
I don’t remember how many Sliders I had that night, but I do remember that I fell in love with those little burgers. Funny how some of life’s greatest memories become burned in your mind forever. I had no idea at the time what life changing experience this moment would become. The Crave had begun. For the next ten years, every time we went out to eat I would always ask to go to White Castle. From my mom and dad to all of my aunts, uncles and grandparents, I always begged them to take me to White Castle when we were out. From taking Sliders to the drive-in to eating them with my grandpa in his old ’55 Ford, I have so many great memories of going to the Castle. I even rode my bike to the seventh street location on a couple of occasions. I guess it is alright to tell my parents about it now. They would have grounded me for months if they had known how far I rode my bike to White Castle. (A check on an online map provider says it is a 4.9 mile journey).
In 1975, my dad was transferred to Chicago, we lived in Naperville. My Crave slowed as the closest Castle was in somewhere south of Naperville. We never got out there much. So needless to say, I was pretty upset. The only thing that was able to ease my Crave was that we had to travel back to Louisville every month or two for my sister to get her medical check-ups as she had a condition since birth. She was doing fine, but my Crave continued. A year later in 1976 my dad was transferred yet again to Memphis. Once more, one of my main concerns was White Castle. Were there any in Memphis? Would my Crave be stopped? As it turned out, there were not any locations in Memphis. There was just some rip-off company thinking they knew how to cook a Slider. Yuck! The closest Original Slider place for me was in Nashville. For a little while, we still went back to Louisville for my sister and would stop in Nashville along the way for the sole purpose of getting some Castles. But when the doctor released her, our visits to Louisville stopped and so did my White Castle visits. For about a year, my Castle visits were sparse. My dad would bring some Sliders home when he went to Nashville, but I needed more.
In 1977, I got my ’73 Mustang and had freedom at last! Gas was cheap and so were my wages. According to my dad, I was supposed to stay in Memphis for insurance reasons while driving. I still don’t know if that is true, but now with my car, I did not always stay around Memphis. About once every four to six weeks, I would go to Nashville to get me some White Castles. I would eat 15 to 20 and then bring some home for later. Of course I had to hide them from my parents. We didn’t have a microwave, so I ate the ones I brought home cold. They were still so good and with that, my Crave lived.
I now live in Germantown, Tennessee which is a suburb of Memphis. There are still no White Castles here and the closest one is on White Bridge in Nashville. I have had many dreams over the years that White Castle came to Memphis, but then I wake up cravenly disappointed. Frozen Castles help fill the Crave gap, but nothing beats hot, steamy, fresh hot off the grill Sliders. It is 196.1 miles from my house to the Castle in Nashville but I go there about every month to six weeks. The great thing now is that my two brothers live in the Nashville area and they bring me forty to fifty Castles every time they come home to visit. A few weeks ago, my little brother needed to borrow some computer equipment from me. I told him it was going to cost him. He said he knew it would and asked me how many Castles I wanted him to bring. I also have my friends and business associates bring me sliders when they come to Memphis from Nashville. It is so ingrained with my friends that I don’t even have to ask them any more.
I have been to New York and had Castles with ketchup and St. Louis and had them with the horseradish mustard. I even stop at that old seventh street location in Louisville whenever I can get back there. I have been to over fifty locations everywhere between New York and St. Louis and I love them all, but nothing beats Castles with Dusseldorf mustard from Louisville and Nashville. For me, no trip North is complete without multiple jaunts to the Castle. Most folks don’t understand my Crave. They don’t realize there is a difference between White Castles and the so-called competitors. Some, I have been able to sway while others I have not. Poor lost souls…
For over 45 years now, many things have changed but White Castles still taste out of this world. My Crave is as intense as ever and I am always trying to find new avenues in which to feed and satisfy it. White Castle is a huge part of me and my life. In fact, Castles are me…the Crave is forever!
(566 Cravers Agree)
Steven Pliskow, M.D.
White Castle has been a huge part of my life for as long as I remember. My story begins at the age of 5 until age 10 when I accompanied my father to work every Saturday and we would have breakfast and lunch at the White Castle across the street. It was my first introduction to the Original Slider and began the love affair that continues today.
Though my dad is no longer with us I can still remember how he enjoyed those orange donuts. From age 11 until I was 16 (just old enough to ride the city bus alone), I convinced my parents to let me take the 30 minute ride each way to enjoy my Slyders at the closest White Castle to my home. Once I was able to drive, I managed to eat at each and every White Castle in the New York Metropolitan area. After I went away to college and medical school, I still took the trek 2 hours each way to enjoy my Slyders at least twice a month.
Since then, I have moved to Florida but the Crave continues. I still take the time away from my busy medical practice to make frequent trips to New York to satisfy the crave. I remember one of the trips to New York, I was almost late to my dad’s funeral because there was a line at White Castle and I had to satisfy the craving before giving the eulogy.
One time, I was traveling from West Palm Beach to Buffalo via Cincinnati and due to a delay, I missed my connecting flight. I had to rent a car and drive through the night to get to Buffalo. I made sure that my trip took me through Columbus, Ohio, the home of the Castle, where at 2 a.m. I was once again enjoying my White Castle hamburgers. I have collected, over the years, numerous vintage mugs and plates from the original restaurants. I would be ecstatic to be a member of the Cravers Hall of Fame; honoring something I have loved for all of my life.
(100 Cravers Agree)
St. Louis, MO
I have craved White Castle ever since taking my first delicious bite of one after moving back to the USA from Germany as a little kid (my dad was in the Army) in November, 1989. I had every occasion I could think of at White Castle, from Birthdays to even Christmas dinner sometimes. I made up excuses to eat at White Castle as a little kid. I remember my prom date looking at me like I was nuts when we pulled into White Castle for those little tasty Sliders before and after prom.
Later in life I entered the US Air Force and moved to a place with no White Castles, I was devastated that I couldn’t eat my tasty Sliders whenever I wanted (usually every day). I had my parents mail me Sliders overnight just so I could have some (YES they were OK and not spoiled). When I would go back home, my first stop across the Ohio bridge into Louisville would be White Castle, and I would always order ten Sliders (no cheese), ten with cheese, some fries and a Coke. I would show up to my parents house with a stomach full of Sliders and the happiest person on earth. Then, of course dinner would be ready and I already ate mine so mom would be a little mad, but oh well I had my Sliders!
My first deployment was over to Kuwait for thirty days and I didn’t know how I’d survive thirty days without a Slider…Mom would overnight them to me at least once a week when I was stateside, but mailing them to Kuwait was impossible. I survived, barely. I staggered into the White Castle when I got back stateside and showed down for a good two hours on Sliders. The employees must have thought I was nuts, but there I was, in full BDU’s eating away and happier than ever.
While in service, I was shot and ended up in a coma for about a month and a half. My first request when I woke up was for White Castle. Of course they weren’t allowed in my diet quite yet. But when they were, there I was in the hospital eating away Sliders, fries and a Coke. I am now out of the US Air Force because of my gunshot wound, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, right next door to a White Castle. I make it a daily occurrence to eat at least five Sliders and I am the fittest and happiest I have ever been. I wouldn’t know what to do without them now that they are so much a part of my life. I look for other places to live and then think of the distance between me and my Sliders and decided that I am just fine where I am (even though it is a little bit of a dumpy apartment). Thank you White Castle!