Time Magazine: Slider is No. 1 Most Influential Burger

Hungry? Maybe this will whet your appetite for a hunk of ground beef on a toasted bun. The White Castle “slider” has been ranked by Time magazine as the “most influential burger of all time,” beating out McDonald’s, In-N-Out, 21 and Burger King (Nos. 2-5, respectively).

My favorite part of this story, however, is how Time staffers came to this conclusion: They interviewed burger historians and experts. I didn’t realize that was an available job for people to have!

The White Castle corporate headquarters have been in Columbus, Ohio for 80 years and part of the reason the tiny sandwiches achieved the Time distinction, according to the Columbus Dispatch, is that the burgers paved the way for a fast food revolution (whether that’s good or bad for health is a discussion for another day).

So, while you think about what you’ll have to eat for lunch today, I’ll leave you with some fun facts about White Castle from the company’s web site:

  • White Castle burgers have been featured in four movies (probably most famously in “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” in 2004)
  • The chain was the first to sell a million, and then a billion, hamburgers
  • The first White Castle opened in March 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, thanks to a $700 loan
  • Originally, sliders were on sale for a nickel
  • During the Depression, White Castle offered a menu of bean soup, cheese and egg sandwiches, due to the rationing of meat at that time

As I was reminded driving past my local White Castle the other day, the restaurant is already taking reservations for Valentine’s Day, in which it transforms into a haven for lovebirds (or so I’m told) with decorations, table cloths, candles and the opportunity for a commemorative photo of your experience. Anyone ever celebrated this romantic holiday at White Castle? Share your experience with us in the comments.

And thanks, White Castle, for creating those delicious bite-sized burgers (and for the chicken rings, too)!

Americans: Why Are We Working to Build More Debt?

It’s a four-letter word, and one I find almost as offensive as that other kind of four-letter word: debt. And while it should strike fear into the heart of every person, we just keep racking it up.

I heard one example on my way to work that was disguised as an easy way to pay for a LASIK vision procedure. Here’s my recollection of a portion of the commercial script that I found troubling:

Wife: “Go get LASIK.”
Husband: “But we can’t afford it.”
Wife: “Of course we can afford it, they have financing available.”

Uh-oh. Being able to afford something and being able to finance something is not the same thing. As a matter of fact, if you have to finance a product (that great pair of red pumps from the shoe store, a medical procedure such as LASIK eye surgery, etc.) that actually means you can’t afford it. Financing equals debt.

Here’s another alarming trend I read about recently in TIME magazine: according to a new study from CardHub.com, America is working to increase its collective credit card debt by $54 billion in 2011. The article goes on: in 2009, Americans actually reduced their credit card debt and added $9 billion in new credit card debt in 2010.

That means people were being smarter about their spending during the economic recession – or less able to be approved for credit cards. But, either way it means more people were actually living within their means.

I’m not sure where this turn-around from two years ago has come from. Possibly it’s similar to a teenager tasting his or her first bit of freedom after being grounded for a month – Americans are trying to make up for that time locked away without the ability to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

The TIME article made conclusions that the increase in credit card debt is similar to the subprime mortgage crisis of a few years ago – what many say propelled us into the recession. I’m confident that no one wants a repeat just two or three years later with credit card debt to blame this time.

Getting out of debt is not easy and it’s not quick – but the first step is to stop accruing debt: No more credit cards, no more financing.

So, someday when I get LASIK, I’ll have worked to save the money and will be able to truly afford it – no financing for me, thank you very much. What about you? Are you relying on credit cards and financing or are you working to get out of that vicious debt cycle?

Freda Lockhart: First Woman Elected to Chamber Board Remembered

Freda Lockhart, who died last week at age 83, achieved a number of firsts during her business career. In addition to the first female-led Cadillac and Saturn automobile dealerships, she was the first woman to serve on the board of directors of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Today, 21 women are on the Chamber board. From her obituary:

Freda received numerous honors as an automobile dealer, including Time Magazine Quality dealer Awards twice, in 1978 and in 1990 when she was one of the top 10 dealers out of 22,000. She also led Lockhart Cadillac to 14 consecutive Cadillac Master Dealer Awards and became a member of the Cadillac Master Dealer Hall of Fame in 1991, the only woman to receive that recognition. The accomplishment she was most proud of came in 1992, Lockhart Cadillac was named by General Motors as the #1 CSI Cadillac Dealer in the country. Until her retirement in 1999, she led Lockhart Automotive Group including the brands of Cadillac, Hummer and Saturn to great success.

Active in community affairs, she was the first woman elected to the board of directors of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, American United Life, Hooks Drugs, as well as the first female President of the Indianapolis Auto Trade Association and the Automobile Dealer Association of Indiana. She served on the advisory board of St. Vincent’s Hospital, was a member of Executive Women International, Family Support Center, Junior Achievement , Salvation Army, Better Business Bureau, 500 Festival Board and supported numerous organizations her entire lifetime.

Freda truly lived the American Dream, starting at the bottom and with foresight, long hours and hard work achieved her dreams. She loved her customers, friends, employees, and family and did her best to make everyone’s life happier.