From the Archives: Ghostface Killah and Questlove Go to White Castle
In 1921, White Castle debuted the original slider in Wichita, amidst an era where many Americans were still coming to terms with the often grotesque nature of early industrial meatpacking, publicized in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Sacks of sliders fed cravings across the country until 1962, when the brand took a calculated risk and finally introduced cheeseburgers in 1962, one year after their billionth burger sold. Through the years, the chain cemented itself as a valuable player not only in the burgeoning fast food industry, but also a borderline culture vulture - well before the days of Harold and Kumar, White Castle made a cameo in Saturday Night Fever, and also served as a muse for the likes of The Beastie Boys and The Smithereens. And in 1996, they celebrated their 75th birthday with a technological innovation, becoming the first quick service website to launch an official website. Given their legacy in predicting the future classics, it should come as no surprise that White Castle was the first major fast food chain to sell plant-based sliders with Impossible Foods.
To celebrate the launch of the Impossible Slider at 140 White Castles across the US, the brand harkened back to the early days of east coast hip hop, when trailblazing DJs would set up their turntables for impromptu sets in automats and diners. Channeling that visionary spirit, hip hop icons Ghostface Killah and Questlove performed at a Bushwick White Castle tucked beneath the elevated tracks of the JMZ train. As Ghostface hyped up the crowd at the top of his set, The New Yorker’s food critic Hannah Goldfield clocked White Castle’s head corporate chef and director of product innovation, Phillip Bach, peering out from the kitchen, eagerly complying with the rapper’s request for a call-and-response: “When I say ‘Wu,’ you say ‘Tang!’ Wu!” “Tang!” “Wu!” “Tang!”
The musical duo was joined on stage by the comedian Eric Wareheim, a pioneer in his own right, offering his services for the evening as MC and winemaker. Alongside natural wines selected by Wareheim and local beers from Bronx Banner, mixologist Arley Marks put together menu of tiki drinks playing off classic soda flavors - a whiskey and mint cooler featured meyer lemon, oro blanco, and peppermint soda, while a mezcal and pineapple concoction incorporated tepache for a bubby base, as well as chili and lime. Marks also offered a classic rum and coke, plus a boozy take on the White Castle milkshake, pairing vanilla soft serve with chervil and walnut liquor.
Presented by White Castle and Impossible Foods
Executive Production: Care of Chan
Lead Producer: Lili Sherman
Food: White Castle and Impossible Foods
Musical Performance: Ghostface Killah and Questlove
MC: Eric Wareheim
Bar: Arley Marks
Photography: Noah Devereaux