The ironic world of the Slider

For dinner last night, Tara and I went to the corner oyster shack. Tara ordered her favorite dish, the Po’ Boy slider, described on the menu as follows:

Panko breaded oysters fried and served on Bakery Nouveau buns, topped with caraway slaw and house-made spicy tarter. Served with spicy pommes frites.

As a dish, it’s quite tasty, and I’ve downed more than my fair share of the sandwiches. When I go to this restaurant, it’s my stand-by order.

And then there’s the added bonus of it being called “a slider”.

The popularity of the slider has been increasing over the past decade, so much so that yesterday none other than the New York Times offered up an article about them.

As the article notes, the “slider” actually began as a reference to the mini-hamburgers offered by the fast food chain White Castle.

Now those of you who grew up on the Coasts likely know nothing about White Castle. For the uninitiated, all you really need to know is that White Castle is a very popular place after the bars have closed (as many are open 24 hours). Drunk patrons are a common occurrence. The popularity amongst the altered-conscious set has as much to do with the grease ratio within the products offered by White Castle as it does the hours open.

I can recall Pittsburgh having at least one White Castle when I was younger, and it was through a college friend from the midwest that first introduced me to the word “slider”. As Florence Fabricant wrote in the New York Times article:

Originally, the term “slider” for the White Castle burger was derogatory, having to do with the ease with which the greasy sandwiches went down.

Oh, but Florence, it’s a little more disgusting than that. Not only was the term used to describe how easy the mini-burgers went into the digestive tract, but also…and I’m trying to be as delicate as I can…how they went out. Another nickname for the burger, “gut bomb”, is based in the same vein.

So the more immature part of my personality is loving…LOVING…the new application of the term, especially when applied to a products lovingly described along the lines of “thick ground Hereford beef sliders with caramelized onions on beautifully browned brioche buns”.

But it’s also interesting from an academic perspective. I do not know how many people are aware of the term’s less appealing definition. If it’s a majority of people, then irony is alive and well. If it’s not well known, then people are applying a quite crude nickname to “wagyu beef burgers, served as a $27 threesome with caramelized onions, tomato, bacon and black truffle sauce.”

For anyone who dislikes pretentiousness in their food, how can you not love that?