White Castle, one of the very first fast food restaurant chains in the United States, was founded in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921 by Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram. Their small, square hamburgers on steamed buns were and are unique. The company moved their headquarters to Columbus, Ohio, in 1934 where it remains to this day. In addition to hamburgers, White Castle pioneered other innovations in the restaurant industry. They patented the style of paper hats worn by their employees and formed the Paperlynen Company to make them. They also designed portable restaurant buildings of porcelain steel that could be moved from location to location. Their subsidiary Porcelain Steel was formed to manufacture the buildings. White Castle used innovative marketing techniques, including coupons and other handouts, to sell their products. One early advertising campaign was implemented to sell their food to housewives as convenient and nutritious.
In 1995, the Ohio Historical Society became the home of the White Castle corporate archives. This collection contains 39 cubic feet and 19 volumes of business records, and approximately 40 cubic feet of photographs, negatives, motion picture films and audio recordings. The photographs and restaurant histories document the evolution of White Castle restaurants from the five-seat hamburger stands of the 1920s to the larger restaurants with drive-throughs and parking lots common today. Some unique items found in the archives include examples of many of the coupons and advertising handouts the company produced; different styles of bags with the famous slogan "Buy 'Em by the Sack!"; examples of their 'grease-proof' hamburger boxes; and dozens of vintage advertising posters. Objects found in the White Castle archives include their patented paper caps worn by employees; white bricks from early White Castle restaurants; and White Castle dishes and restaurant equipment. For more information about the content of the collection, consult the following finding aids: P 394, White Castle System, Inc. Audiovisual Collection, 1921-1991 and MSS 991, White Castle System, Inc. Records.