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Apr 6, 2009 04:26 PM

"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 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....