Omnivore - The difference between Krystal and White Castle

Small, square, similar


Illustration by Amanda Croy

Upon moving to Chicago, I was super excited that after decades spent living in the South, I was in a place where White Castle was the regional purveyor of small square burgers. Tiny, steamed, fast food burgers are the best drunk-stoned food ever and everyone knows it and that’s why there’s a movie about it. Which isn’t to say they aren’t delicious whilst sober, as well.

I have fond childhood memories of White Castle. I’d occasionally accompany my dad to work at the car dealership he managed in Yonkers, New York, and it was one of the closest places to grab lunch. I loved how the buns’ inside parts got wet and sticky, how they clung to those little bits of reconstituted onion. Krystal burgers have the same appeal, but White Castle burgers always existed in my mind as the genuine article and, therefore, slightly better.

So, I recently reintroduced White Castle to my shitfood diet and I can now tell you precisely what the difference is between Krystal and White Castle ... there is no discernable difference between the burgers at Krystal and those at White Castle. People prefer whichever burger they were raised on. And despite White Castle being my first, Krystal was in my life longer, and I absolutely prefer it.

And there are reasons beyond the burgers ...

— White Castle’s onion rings were hideous. Really bitter and gross. Krystal doesn’t have onion rings, which is fine. If you’re not going to do it right don’t do it at all.

— Krystal Chiks are very, very good. Try one with the usual pickle and mayo, but add bacon. It’s really something.

— White Castle spent the summer trying to push its “saucy” BBQ sliders, and that just sounds awful.

Which do you prefer and why? Or do both make you want to puke? There are no wrong answers in the world of small, square burgers.