White Castle

From Ohio History Central
First White Castle Restaurant in Ohio.jpg
The first White Castle restaurant in Ohio was built in Cincinnati in 1927.

Walter Anderson and Edgar Waldo "Billy" Ingram, Sr., formed the White Castle System of Eating Houses Corporation in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921. The company was formally incorporated in 1924, and that same year the two men opened their first restaurant outside of Wichita. The staple of the White Castle menu was the hamburger, served on a bun with grilled onions. From the beginning, White Castle restaurants had the distinct look of a castle on the exterior.

White Castle opened its first restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1927 and in Columbus in 1929. Anderson left the company in 1933, and Ingram soon decided to move the headquarters from Wichita to Columbus. Ingram felt that Columbus's location was more central to his operations. In addition, the Porcelain Steel Building Company, a subsidiary that constructed White Castle restaurants, was already located in Columbus.

White Castle created a model for the chain restaurant, creating a standard of uniformity among its many locations. The company packaged its hamburgers in individual boxes designed to keep the food hot and sold bags of hamburgers for a combined rate. In 1932, a customer could purchase five hamburgers for ten cents.

World War II created challenges for the restaurant chain. Until the 1940s, White Castle had expanded at a tremendous rate, but rationing meant that plans for new stores had to be put on hold during the war. Prior to the Second World War, White Castle only employed men. Because so many men served in the armed forces during the war, the company was forced to hire women for the first time.

Today, the Ingram family still owns White Castle System, Inc. The company has continued to expand its scope, opening additional restaurants and introducing frozen, microwavable hamburgers to grocery stores.

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