Selling 'em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food (Paperback)
  • Selling 'em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food (Paperback)

Selling 'em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food (Paperback)

Paperback 218 Pages / Published: 01/11/1999
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In the wake of World War I, the hamburger was still considered a disreputable and undesirable food. Yet by 1930 Americans in every corner of the country accepted the hamburger as a mainstream meal and eventually made it a staple of their diet. The quintessential "American" food, hamburgers have by now spread to almost every country and culture in the world. But how did this fast food icon come to occupy so quickly such a singular role in American mass culture?

In Selling `em By the Sack, David Gerard Hogan traces the history of the hamburger's rise as a distinctive American culinary and ethnic symbol through the prism of one of its earliest promoters. The first to market both the hamburger and the "to go" carry-out style to American consumers, White Castle quickly established itself as a cornerstone of the fast food industry. Its founder, Billy Ingram, shrewdly marketed his hamburgers in large quantities at five cents a piece, telling his customers to "Buy'em by the Sack."

The years following World War II saw the rise of great franchised chains such as McDonald's, which challenged and ultimately overshadowed the company that Billy Ingram founded. Yet White Castle stands as a charismatic pioneer in one of America's most formidable industries, a company that drastically changed American eating patterns, and hence, American life. It could be argued that what Henry Ford did for the car and transportation, Billy Ingram did for the hamburger and eating.

Publisher: New York University Press
ISBN: 9780814735671
Number of pages: 218
Weight: 400 g
Dimensions: 203 x 127 x 15 mm


"A fascinating story . . .Hogan tells a truly American success story luck and hard work behind one man to create an industry so pervasive that today it's an integral part of American pop culture."

-Publishers Weekly

"A scholar's lively account of how White Castle, now a largely overlooked but still profitable also-ran in the domestic restaurant trade, made the once-scorned hamburger a U.S. institution and launched the fast-food industry. . . . Informed and engaging perspectives on an often ignored aspect of cultural and commercial Americana."

-Kirkus Reviews

"David Hogan's love of fast food goes back at least twenty years: I remember talking to him while he gulped down a McDonald's before the start of class. Few historians I know would be able to translate their penchant for fast food into a wonderful case study of the first chain to sell huge numbers of hamburgers-to-go. Selling 'em by the Sack, which traces the fortunes and failures of White Castle from the 1920s to the 1990s, deftly blends biography, social history, and corporate history. In doing so, Hogan gives us a fascinating glimpse into American popular culture."

-Andrew Achenbaum,Professor of History, University of Michigan

"Hogan makes a convincing case for White Castle's influence."

-Jonathan Yardley,Washington Post

"Full of fascinating details, not only for devotees of the ubiquitous 'slider,' but also for pop-culturists interested in American fast food and how it all got started."

-Minneapolis Star Tribune

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