Whence slider?
February 12, 2008 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Why are cheeseburgers called sliders?
posted by sonofslim to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am pretty sure that term only refers to White Castle burgers.

Those burgers are small and notoriously greasy, allowing you to essentially slide them into your mouth and down your throat.
posted by explosion at 7:54 PM on February 12, 2008

I thought sliders were just small burgers, not cheeseburgers. Seems like White Castle invented them.
posted by saffry at 7:55 PM on February 12, 2008

2nd White Castle explanation. I've never heard this refer to any other cheeseburger.
posted by horseblind at 7:55 PM on February 12, 2008

Yeah, White Castle burgers are called sliders, "officially spelled and trademarked as 'Slyders.'"
posted by ludwig_van at 7:56 PM on February 12, 2008

Interesting. I was wondering this myself as twice in the past month I have seen "sliders" on the bar menu in two very expensive hotels, in two different countries and I had never heard of such a thing before.
posted by meerkatty at 8:00 PM on February 12, 2008

Sliders are small hamburgers, probably invented by White Castle, but as meerkatty said, they are popular at a lot of nice restaurants these days. Here's one example. Even Thomas Keller, of the French Laundry, occasionally serves them in NYC at Bouchon Bakery.
posted by ecab at 8:07 PM on February 12, 2008

Despite the White castle origin, I think nowadays, "slider" is code for mini-burger. I recently saw them on the menu at my local fuddruckers.
posted by necessitas at 8:11 PM on February 12, 2008

Sliders are tiny burgers. Kobe sliders are a somewhat common upscale bit of yummy.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:12 PM on February 12, 2008

They are mini burgers at pretty much any chain restaurant these days (from Cheesecake Factory, Uno's, Friday's, etc ... and I'm really ashamed that I know this). I have seen mini burgers called sliders on various menus for at least the past 3-4 years though they seem to be SUPER popular very recently.
posted by tastybrains at 8:12 PM on February 12, 2008

A Hamburger Today expounds fully on the origin of the slider. They seem to be fans of the concept.
posted by zamboni at 8:14 PM on February 12, 2008

They not only slide down your throat, they slide out your ass afterwards.
posted by unSane at 8:15 PM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

The name comes from White Castle, but began meaning 'small burger', that's why the trademark is for 'slYder', as ludwig van said above. By the time they decided to file, the name had gotten away from them...

Anecdotaly, growing up in the Southeast we had Krystal, not White Castle, and I never heard the term until I got north into WC territory. 'Gutbomb' was the preferred nom de burger, but ONLY for Krystals. Other places that tried them had mini-burgers, or sometimes bar burgers.
posted by pupdog at 8:17 PM on February 12, 2008

Haha. So weird. I just wrote a blog post about sliders two after having them at a fine dining restaurant in the Napa Valley two nights ago. I thought it was a very interesting example of borrowed interest, since it's using the caché from a midwest fast food establishment. I wonder how many patrons of the restaurant made the connection.

(These sliders came in three's, unlike White Castle. They also cost $14. Outrageous.)
posted by iamkimiam at 8:23 PM on February 12, 2008

or "too". I am so S-M-R-T!
posted by iamkimiam at 8:24 PM on February 12, 2008

I'm with unSane here: sliders (ala WHite Castle, be they fresh or frozen) slide right in and thanks to grease and cheese and oniony delight, slide right out.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:24 PM on February 12, 2008

Just to give some fancy pants perspective on how far the name has expanded beyond its origins at White Caste, I had lunch at the Atelier at the Four Seasons in NYC (not on my dime) and my party split the $30+-for-three beef and foie gras "sliders" (although the copy of the menu on the web just calls them "burgers"--I guess "sliders" lacks that je ne sais quois for the Internet).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:29 PM on February 12, 2008

Everyone is correct about where they came from and what they are so I'll just add this: the recent rise in popularity is from the rise in popularity of tapas in the US, which then morphed into small plates in general, which works really well in a posh bar setting, with mini tacos, kabobs, sliders, etc.
posted by birdie birdington at 8:36 PM on February 12, 2008

The term might have originated in the Navy.

Sailors of the U.S. Navy call Wednesday “slider day,” after the greasy grilled burgers served at evening chow on ships across the fleet.
posted by Iridic at 8:40 PM on February 12, 2008

I have always thought there was a link between the shape of the burger and slider turtles.
posted by Iron Rat at 8:51 PM on February 12, 2008

I thought it was from the TV show.
posted by SassHat at 8:55 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Growing in Chicago/NW Indiana I have to say UnSane's answer is what I associate with sliders. The idea is they slide through you.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:35 PM on February 12, 2008

Best answer: Because burgers obviously slide onto the grill (or griddle) and then onto the bun. Likewise, hot dogs are called "rollers" because, well, you know.

I come from a navy family.
posted by QueSeraSera at 9:37 PM on February 12, 2008

White Castles only. Never forget my Uncle Niels wake on the south side of Chicago. He was the only Swede amongst a sea of Irish and when he died they had a huge party in a basement bar that resulted in me watching my older cousins drunkenly order "400 Sliders" over the phone.

I always thought becasue they slide through you. A real Chicago term.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thirding Iridic and QueSeraSera concerning the Navy origins. Slider is a hamburger. A slider with lid is a cheeseburger. I've seen the term referenced in books about the Navy going back decades. I'm not positive, but I really do suspect it began there and got appropriated for the other usage later, possibly by the same sailors and marines who served on ship.
posted by empyrean at 3:04 AM on February 13, 2008

A propos nothing, in addition to "sliding" right out of you like they slide in, we always said as kids, "Eat White Castle, get Black Asshole". (It kinda rhymes, if you say it out loud.)
posted by notsnot at 3:57 AM on February 13, 2008

Best answer: The OED has a citation for "slider" from 1915 where the term refers to an ice cream sandwich. It links this definition to the following one, which has citations going back decently far:
"7. a. A stand or holder for a bottle or decanter, intended to be slid along the table; a coaster."
White Castle wasn't started until the 1920s, so even if they did invent the term to apply it to burgers (which I doubt), the idea looks like it came from this use describing a coaster-sized puck of food.
posted by Schismatic at 6:26 AM on February 13, 2008

As a Chicagoan, I've only heard "sliders" in reference to White Castle burgers before. (fact: it's impossible to faze a White Castle order-taker with a large order. I've ordered 100 sliders and they don't blink (they weren't all for me).) It's not a flattering monicker, so I was surprised when I learned that White Castle itself had taken to using "Slyder," and I'm even more surprised now to learn that upscale joints are selling mini-burgers as "sliders."
posted by adamrice at 6:54 AM on February 13, 2008

Response by poster: The Naval explanation seems the most plausible, at least in terms of widespread adoption. Which is too bad, because my own pet theory had to do with a three-fingered grip on a little burger resembling the way you'd throw a slider in baseball, and now I owe someone $5.
posted by sonofslim at 9:15 AM on February 13, 2008

Just another data point, Uno's Pizzaria here in Clifton, NJ, has mini-burgers they call "Sliders". I had never heard of them until I started working here, but my co-workers thought it normal and expected.
posted by Xoder at 10:34 AM on February 13, 2008

The term "slider" (in reference to burgers) began life umpteen ages ago as a derogatory term for White Castle burgers. Derogatory, but also used by fans of the little square gut-bombs.
White Castle, to their credit, embraced the term and ran with it, incorporating it into their advertising.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:56 AM on February 13, 2008

Sliders are all over Manhattan now, from Shake Shack to upscale restaurants, but White Castle was the first place I ever noticed the word, too, about 15 yrs ago.
posted by rokusan at 10:57 AM on February 13, 2008

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