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)!

Ivy Tech Gets Cooking in Historic Indy Hotel

I attended a Yelp Indy event last Thursday at Ivy Tech, which showcased the school’s new student-run Courses restaurant and bakery (housed in its culinary school at 28th & Meridian in downtown Indy).

Led on a tour by chef Thom England, we stopped by several stations and sampled a variety of appetizers and wines, all before having the pleasure of eating and drinking at Courses, located in the penthouse. With Sun King brews on tap, unique cuisine options and a wonderful view of downtown, it made for a delightful evening. It’s a very impressive facility in which Indiana’s future cuisinal artists can perfect their craft.

Here’s more info on the restaurant, which I highly recommend you frequent based on my experience. Also, for those Hoosier history enthusiasts like me, here’s a bit about the building the restaurant and Ivy Tech’s culinary school now reside in:

In the 1880s Gilbert Van Camp developed a method to can fruits and vegetables for the family store, located in Indianapolis.  He made his fortune during the Civil War, as this canning method made it possible to send beans to the soldiers in the field.  In the 1880s, Gilbert and his wife, Hester, purchased the property at 2820 North Meridian Street and built their mansion.  It remained a private resident until the early 20th Century, when it became the home of the International Typographical Union.

The Stouffer Restaurants purchased the property in the 1960s.  The mansion was demolished and the Stouffer Hotel was built in 1965.  The focal point of the hotel was the penthouse restaurant, The Ramsgate, which featured woodwork, stained glass and a fireplace from the original mansion, as well as an amazing view of the downtown skyline.  The hotel quickly became one of the prominent locations for weddings, proms and other celebratory events in the city.  The hotel was also a favorite lodging site for local and national celebrities when they visited Indianapolis. Richard Lugar held his inauguration celebration at the hotel when he was elected as mayor of the City of Indianapolis.  Dolly Parton and the Osmonds stayed at the hotel, and legend has it that Elvis stayed on the 11th floor of the hotel in 1977 when he was performing in Indianapolis – a performance that would turn out to be his last live performance.  The hotel remained popular until the mid-1980s, as the popularity of downtown grew and became the focal point of the city.  The hotel closed in the late 1980s.

The building remained vacant until the early 1990s, when it was purchased by Bill Gothard Ministries, who established the Indianapolis Training Center.  The Christian-based ministry provided vocational, as well as Christian-based education to at-risk youth and families.

With a $23 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Ivy Tech Community College acquired the property in 2010 and renovated the facility for classroom and conference space.  The Corporate College and Culinary Center opened in August 2012, and houses the region’s Corporate College, Hospitality Administration Program and a conference center.  With state-of-the art technology, the center provides Ivy Tech’s Corporate College the opportunity to provide training and development solutions for Indiana businesses through specialized courses and certifications.  The center also features a student operated fine-dining restaurant, Courses Restaurant, and bakery/café, Courses Bakery, as well as a conference cente, with over 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space available to the public.

On this topic, I’ve also penned an article about Harrison College for the upcoming January/February issue of BizVoice magazine, which will include information on that school’s renowned culinary program as well.

Tyson Foods Continues Hunger Relief Efforts with Gleaners

It’s always a pleasure to see our members giving back to their communities. As we’ve documented here before, Tyson Foods makes it a point to aid those in need of food. Here is information on the company’s latest effort in partnership with Gleaners Food Bank:

Tyson Foods, Inc. donated a truckload of food to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana today as part of an effort to feed people in need and promote public awareness of hunger in America. 

“There are millions of hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are faced with the realities of hunger and malnourishment,” said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods. “We’re trying to make a difference in their lives by providing nutrient-rich protein and by increasing understanding of hunger in our country.”

To date, Gleaners has distributed over 300 million pounds of food and critical grocery products. In the last fiscal year, the food bank distributed nearly 21 million pounds of food, or 16 million meals.

“We are thrilled to receive this very generous donation from Tyson Foods,” said Cindy Hubert, president and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. “It is a fantastic effort that will help to exceed the National FFA’s goal of feeding 1 million people.”

Last year Tyson launched the “KNOW Hunger” campaign to raise hunger awareness. As part of the campaign, the company released the results of a survey which found that one in four Americans is worried about having enough money to put food on the table and that many Americans are unaware of how serious hunger is in their own communities. Raising awareness that hunger exists in every community in the country reinforces the campaign’s imperative that “We should all KNOW Hunger.”

Since 2000, Tyson Foods has fought hunger in the U.S by donating nearly 90 million pounds of protein. The company partners with Food Research and Action Center, Feeding America, Share Our Strength, Lift Up America and the League of United Latin American Citizens to raise awareness and help feed the hungry across the nation. 

Meat and poultry are excellent sources of heme iron, which is especially important for women, children and adolescent girls, who are often deficient in iron. For more information on the nutritional value of meat and poultry, go to: http://www.meatpoultrynutrition.org/ht/d/sp/i/26062/pid/26062

For more information on Tyson’s hunger relief efforts, go to: http://www.TysonHungerRelief.com/

The Coming Food Crisis — and What It Has to do with Canada

In writing a bit about food production for BizVoice, it seems there is one daunting, unavoidable fact: With China and other Asian countries expanding their palettes to include dairy products, the pressure will be on Western food producers to raise the output in the coming years. While my talks with Hoosier producers indicated their eagerness to step up, Dan Gardner, a columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, argues Canada will have a much tougher time doing so:

With rare exceptions, discussions of food policy in Canada are limited to the joys of eating organic and how hard-pressed farmers need more help from the government.

What you never hear is this: As a result of rising population and wealth, global demand for food is soaring and the world faces a food crisis unlike anything seen since the 1970s if food production does not grow rapidly. Canada is among the very few nations with the capacity to dramatically boost production. But we’re not. In fact, Canadian agriculture is stagnant. And politicians will not even discuss how we can change that.

“There is a disconnect,” says Larry Martin, an agricultural economist at the George Morris Centre, an independent think tank devoted to agricultural policy.

“Canada has the third-largest endowment of arable land per capita in the world, after Australia and Kazakhstan,” notes Martin. “We have, depending on the set of numbers you look at, nine per cent of the renewable fresh water supply in the world.” Put those two facts together, add one of the greatest commodity booms in history, and money should be pouring into Canadian food production.

But Martin found something startling when he compared the ratio of investment in agriculture with the depreciation of existing assets. Over the last decade, as China boomed and food prices soared, there was no rush to invest. “The ratio in Canada in eight of the last 10 years is less than one. So there’s less new investment coming into the food industry than there is depreciation.”

In the United States, by comparison, the worst year in the last 10 saw 40 per cent more investment than depreciation.

“It’s just astonishing when you see these numbers. We think of ourselves as a great wheat exporter but our share of the wheat market is declining. During the ’90s and early 2000s, we had between 20 and 25 per cent market share and it’s gone down steadily to 15 in the last few years.”

The causes of the stagnation are many, Martin says. A big one is a regulatory system that stifles innovation. Martin recalls testifying at a parliamentary committee alongside a wheat breeder from the University of Saskatchewan. “He went through a whole list of wheat varieties that he came up with that are much higher yielding than the wheat varieties in Canada. He couldn’t get them registered in Canada but they got registered in Montana and we now have to compete with them.”

Then there’s “supply management,” the 1970s-era policy which effectively turned dairy and poultry production into an industry-controlled cartel protected by import tariffs. It’s good for existing dairy and poultry producers because it keeps prices high and stable. And it has made the lucky people with production quotas a lot of money: the quota for a single dairy cow can go for $30,000 and estimates of the total value of production quotas range between $30 billion and $50 billion.

Hog Heaven: Frankfort Company to be Featured on QVC

From Clinton County to the bright lights of the television studio: Indiana Chamber member Shoup’s Country Foods (Frankfort) will be featured this Memorial Day (May 31) on QVC between 11 a.m. and noon. The network will promote Shoup’s famous Hogburgers — aka "the ultimate porkburger" — as well as Shoup’s seasoning. Representing the company will be Amy Shoup Mennen and Cindy Shoup Cacy.

And if the thought of these meaty treats gets your mouth watering, go ahead and check out the company’s web site. Perhaps you can place an order for your own Memorial Day celebration. You might also be interested in Shoup’s catering offerings and mini-hog roasts, as well.

And Mom Said Not to Play with His Food

As an artist myself, I find myself drawn (pun intended) to other artists around the world who are doing what they love. The invention of the Web and the prevalence of blogging have made my life easier. Now all I have to do to take in a good gallery exhibit is go to my preferred browser and search.

Over the past two years I’ve been doing just that. I’ve logged countless hours and have lost more sleep than I can imagine scrolling through some of my favorite art blogs. I’ve discovered everyone from a guy who created a skull out of a different material each day for a year to someone who routinely inks an old-fashioned comic strip. In between I stumbled upon someone who is eerily similar to me: he’s bald, sports a goatee and is an artist with a dream.

His name is Terry Border and he lives here in Indianapolis. For about three years he’s been bending the fabric (or wire) of reality. He takes wire and ordinary objects we see around our houses (corks, spice jars, fruit and cheesy snacks to name a few) and literally bends and shapes them into something else, injecting personality and life into them along the way. He then photographs them and posts them for all to see.

Within these photos we get a glimpse of what really goes on behind the cupboard. Why are carrots such great parents? What do people really think of Hamlet? How do you fight a cold? All these questions and more are answered on Terry’s blog.

His site boasts over 10,000 unique visitors per month. Now, he’s put some of his most creative creations into a book. “BENT OBJECTS: The Secret Life of Everyday Things,” was released on October 6.

I encourage those interested in good humor, great art and a desire to support local artists to check out his blog http://www.bentobjects.blogspot.com/ and pick up the book. Or drop him a comment at [email protected].

Obama Kicks Off Administration by Dining on Duck from Milford

Inside Indiana Business writes that duck raised right here in Indiana will get the presidential treatment in Washington, D.C. today:

Maple Leaf Farms duck will be the center of the main course for the Inaugural Luncheon, which follows the swearing-in of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. One hundred pounds of boneless duck breasts are being sent to Design Cuisine, an upscale catering company based in Arlington, Virginia.

The luncheon has been a tradition for more than a century. Approximately 200 guests including the new President, Vice President, members of their families, the Supreme Court, Cabinet designees, and members of Congress will attend the event being held in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol building.

The theme of the 2009 Inaugural ceremonies, "A New Birth of Freedom," celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of President (Abraham Lincoln), will be reflected in the luncheon. The menu created by Design Cuisine is based on the historic ties to the Presidency of Lincoln. Growing up in the frontier regions of Kentucky and Indiana, Lincoln favored simple foods including root vegetables and wild game.

 Kudos to Maple Leaf Farms, an Indiana Chamber member, for this prestigious recognition.