Sliders for Purists

Is a slider just a tiny burger? Not at all. "I think people who think there is no difference between a slider and a burger have never really had a real slider (or slyder)," says ipsedixit. "They've only had small burgers." "The phenomenon is that White Castle is popular, serves a unique burger, and has thusly been imitated, but only the size has been replicated," says kevin47.

"It's not just the size," says ipsedixit. "A proper slider, aside from being smaller than a burger, is made with a thin beef patty, seared first on a griddle with onions, and finished by covering it and steaming the beef and onions together to create one unique flavor profile. Cheese optional and pickles optional." kevin46 agrees. "The White Castle burger is unique. It doesn't taste like any other burger, insofar as its flavors derive from the sugars in the onions and bun," he says. "As far as burgers go, the whole thing works (sorta) to the degree that the onion powers the flavor. It's a way to make bad ingredients taste good. It makes no sense for a restaurant with a chef that makes a good burger to offer sliders. What you will get is burnt nonsense, with a 600 percent markup." Restaurant menus may feature pork loin "sliders," duck "sliders," and even soft shell crab "sliders," but only the stripped-down onion-beef concoction is a true slider.

"It's like that age-old question, 'what's the difference between a dumpling (jaozi) and a xiao long bao?'" says ipsedixit. "The trite answer might be something like, 'I know it when I see it.'"

Discuss: The Slider Phenomenon