How Walter Anderson and Blight Castle Changed the World

Eat Better. Live Better.

Last night I cleaned my kitchen, top-to-bottom. It was a disaster and thus, I had a lot of time to contemplate what I eat, don’t eat and shouldn’t be eating. Somewhere in there I got to thinking about Upton Sinclair and White Castle. Somewhere between scrubbing the stove burners and the sink corners I decided White Castle needed an honest redesign of their logo. And so I give you Blight Castle.

I used to commute to work via the #16 Metrotransit line which crawls its way, block-by-excruciating-block, from where I lived in Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul. The ride down University Ave., known as the Central Corridor, is not something I can easily encapsulate. Let’s just say it ran the gamut from amazement to abhorrence. One thing that always captured both ends of this spectrum were the promotional specials put out by fast food and chain restaurants. I remember staring at one particular promotion plastered in the windows of the White Castle at the corner of University and Lexington, “Kids Eat Free, 4-8pm!”

I’m not trying to be a food-snob, I’m just being honest about this. White Castle is not healthy food. It is not good for you and it is not good for your kids. I’m only picking on White Castle because the founder of White Castle through innovative thinking and business acumen created the model by which the fast food industry would, and continues to, thrive. Deep fried, factory farmed, antibiotic laden, corn filled, sugar packed, etc., it’s not a good scene. If you think it’s cheap now, just wait until you start having to pay for the medical bills that will be a result of eating this stuff for 10 or 20 years.

Oddly enough, the design of White Castle of all places was a result of the anti-ground-beef backlash after Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, rocked the palettes of early 20th century America. Consider that White Castle founder Walter Anderson is the man credited with such amazing inventions as the Henry Ford-esque kitchen assembly line that is de rigueur of fast food production, the pristine white uniform and sanitary white paper hat ensemble characteristic of Goldie Wilson, and the hamburger bun(!). In terms of stereotypical American cuisine, he pretty much made the best thing since sliced bread.

In the end though, all of his ingenuity for standardized and systemized production and product really contributed to the downfall of the burger franchise because in his pursuit of a better burger he provided the perfect model for the capitalist exploitation of food. Discreet and quantifiable systems of production executed by a “cook as infinitely replaceable technician” producing a commodity of food for the sake of profit.