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"Sliders": Why have restaurants embraced such a disgusting name?

A major topic of conversation on my trip back home last weekend was the new brewpub down the street, and their amazing sliders -- a menu item that, I had to admit, was ruined for me by the food writer at the newspaper where I work.

Fancy restaurants have no business putting something called a "slider" on their menu, and he often makes a point of reminding people where the term supposedly came from: "Slides right in, slides right out." Here's his latest rant:

Okay, gross maybe, but does anyone know more about the origin of this term for the mini-burgers?

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  1. I'm pretty sure someone invented it to refer to the small burgers from White Castle.

    As far as restaurant adoption, just think 'herd instinct'. Marketing folks always go for the sheep-brained subset of the 18-35 yr old male demographic, add some 'lower calorie' (heh) menu item to go with 'less filling' Bud or Miller Light.

    It just never freaking ends.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DiveFan

      Couldn't have said it better myself. Baaa Baaa, and don't forget the canned cheese sauce.

    2. Growing up in the 50s-60s in The Bronx, just two blocks from a White Castle...my first hearing of the term "sliders" only had to do with them going down...not anything gross or gastrointestinal. Before that term came along, we just called them "belly bombers"; because despite how easily they went down, they could lay kind of heavy on you if you had too many too quickly.

      Others talk about how they slide off the grill.

      In any case, toilets never came into it...

      It's the ease of scarfing them down that most people relate to the term, and why restaurants use it; it's because people recognize it immediately.

      1. Just saw a portion of Unwrapped where they talked about the original sliders - White Castle. The episode showed how they are made. That's where the name comes from. They put a layer of the onions on the grill, then the little patties with the 5 holes in them, then they stack the buns on top. They never flip. Because the buns on top "seal" in the heat and steam, the burgers are cooked all the way through from only one side. Then they simply SLIDE off the grill.

        Don't know if that's for real; but it sounded plausible. And it's a certainly nicer explanation than what was posted above.

        1 Reply
        1. It's odd that a term with such negative connotations has been co-opted by food writers and restaurant marketers. In fact, I didn't realize the term slider was now being used for plain-old mini burgers until a year or so ago, when I was trying to find mini-sized buns. I was greatly confused by people's mention of "slider buns", which to me, are square and tasteless.

          For me, slider = grease. As someone who ate many a White Castle slider after a night of college-age drinking*, I would never order a slider when I was sober. Definitely not in an upscale restaurant. Too many memories.


          * Way back when the legal drinking age was 18, just so you know....

            1. I've never heard anything but the "slide right through you" explanation.

              At any rate, it grosses me out a little. That being said, I had sliders of two varieties (pulled pork and hamburger) this last weekend. So I guess I can overcome it.

              It's still a nasty name. I hate nicknames and abbreviations of most sorts, though. "Let's splash some EVOO on our sammies while I whip up some garlic mashers and chop the veggies." ARGH! MAKE IT STOP!!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: dmd_kc

                Yeah, "sammy" SUCKS. This belongs on the "It's a language thing" thread!

                The thing I hate about EVOO is that born-yesterday Rachael Ray claimed to somehow have invented the acronym.

              2. If you have two options: "slider" , and "constipator" , which do you choose?

                1. I like LNG212's explanation about the burgers not flipping, so they slide off the grill -- but more than anything I wish the "belly bombers" term was still in use for these mini burgers. I'd love to sit down at a ritzy spot in downtown Dallas and order some fennel and shitake-topped Kobe beef "belly bomber".

                  1. llamarama; all you ever need to know about "sliders" is contained within these 2 links:
                    and the previous replies to them and your post.

                    To quote one of the comments, "...is 'what' a restaurant calls a given meal REALLY the most important part...? I would think that you...would be more concerned with the actual quality of ingredients,...the preparation & presentation of its meals..." and the resultant taste of the food that would create my opinion or level of satisfaction.

                    Also; there is an old "business" addage, which loosely translated, states that "A business owner may call any of his products whatever he/she wants (within copyright limitations); if you want to change the name of one, buy-out the owner and then call it whatever you wish."

                    If anyone is "TRULY concerned" about such an unimportant matter, I suggest they "take up the cause(s)" of world/national/local- hunger and poverty! Perhaps then we could erradicate it once and for all.

                    1. Here in San Francisco we have a small chain of burger restaurants called "SLIDERS" it never occurred to me or came up on the boards that this was anything but a slang term for burger......we also have a small chain of restaurants called "Squat and Gobble" and a "Good Frickin' Chicken" !!!
                      These HAVE had discussions however!