When I was a teen, I was astounded to learn that there were parts of the country that didn’t have access to a White Castle restaurant. This revelation came from a news story about some transplanted St. Louisan who ordered hundreds of the belly bombers frozen and had them shipped out west. White Castle started in 1921 selling 3 cent hamburgers that are steam cooked over a bed of onions. The burgers are wafer thin and the bun becomes thoroughly saturated with grease and onion juice. They are an acquired taste and are also known as “sliders” (by the way they slide down your throat) and “murder burgers” (by the effect they have on you after you eat them). Getting a “sack of Castles” was a weekly Friday night treat when my parents got paid.
The longing for regional food is as varied as the states across the country. Just ask someone from New York about their favorite food and they might mention pizza, deli sandwiches, knishes, hot dogs, or hot pretzels with mustard. Mention jalapenos and tomatillos to some one from the southwest part of the country and they will tell you about a certain Mexican dish they had while growing up that you can’t find anywhere else. Say something about fresh Nebraska sweet corn to someone who hasn’t been back there in twenty years and bring a tear to their eyes.
Now, thanks to the Internet, some famous local establishments in St. Louis have discovered that former residents are willing to pay that extra fee to relive their culinary memories:
St. Louis Style Pizza www.stlpizza.com (314) 773-5908
Now you can satisfy your craving for Provel cheese (the goo from the Lou) no matter where you live, with frozen, half-baked Imo’s Pizza. The company recently shipped off several of the pizzas to soldiers from St. Louis who were getting ready to ship off to Iraq. The owner, Maureen Anania, says that some former residents even call her up to reminisce about their experiences growing up in St. Louis.
Ted Drews Frozen Custard www.teddrews.com (314) 481-2652
There are two Ted Drews Frozen Custard locations in St. Louis and Ted has vehemently opposed opening any more or selling his secrets to a franchise. The location on Chippewa Street is so busy in the summer that traffic problems are created by the long lines of customers that spill out into the street. There are rumors that one of the secret ingredients that make this frozen custard taste so good is a shot of honey. But don’t tell anybody.
Crown Candy Kitchen www.crowncandykitchen.com (314) 621-9650
Nowhere else in St. Louis is the old fashioned soda fountain more alive than at Crown Candy. There aren’t too many kids who have grown up here that don’t remember the Sunday trip up to north St. Louis to get a box of Heavenly Hash chocolates, a banana split, or a cherry Coke.
Bissinger’s Chocolatier www.bissingers.com (800) 325-8881
Bissinger’s didn’t even blink when Godiva Chocolates started opening mall locations a few years ago. They are a favorite destination around Christmas and Valentine’s Day. And who can forget those luscious
Chocolate covered strawberries and blackberries in the summer.
Still haven’t found that hometown favorite? Then check out Hometown Favorites www.hometownfavorites.com (888) 694-2656
This Internet retailer specializes in scouring the country for regional specialties. A more mobile population has created a demand for this type of service. After all, you’re not just buying a favorite food, you’re buying a memory.