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Unformatted text preview: to the historian David Gerard Hogan, the hamburger was considered “a food for the poor,” tainted and unsafe to eat. Restaurants rarely served hamburgers; they were sold at lunch carts parked
near factories, at circuses, carnivals, and state fairs. Ground beef, it was widely believed, was made from old, putrid meat heavily laced with
chemical preservatives. “The hamburger habit is just about as safe,” one food critic warned, “as getting your meat out of a garbage can.”
White Castle, the nation’s first hamburger chain, worked hard in the 1920s to dispel the hamburger’s tawdry image. As Hogan notes in his
history of the chain, Selling ’Em by the Sack (1997), the founders of White Castle placed their grills in direct view of customers, claimed that
fresh ground beef was delivered twice a day, chose a name with connotations of purity, and even sponsored an experiment at the University
of Minnesota in which a medical student lived for thirteen weeks on “nothing but White Castle hamburgers and water.”
The success of White Castle in the East a...
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- Spring '08