Retro ‘Slugburger’ a summer southern legend

You paid just a nickel, or ‘slug’ as the vernacular of the day had it, for this Depression-busting ‘burger’, which stretched a 1930’s Diner’s available meat farther than most of us today can imagine. And, in spite of being composed mainly of fillers, it’s remembered fondly…

Classic Slugburger © Kristie Denton / classic Slugburger, from the White Trolly Diner in Corinth, MS.
It’s John Weeks’ original location, but it has passed out of the family.
Granddaughters Diane and Willie now continue the Weeks Slugburger
dynasty at their place in Booneville, just down the road…

Found a mention of this American Diner Classic on the Web today. Made me think of my folks’ tales of the Great Depression and how they managed to scrape along and stay healthy on a small fraction of the protein, fat and other ‘high-end’ foods we enjoy without even thinking today.

My Mom was raised on a farm Out West in the Dirty 30s and has many, many stories about how the people out there, town and country, worked together to maintain a superior standard of life. They shared. They bartered. They cooperated on community endeavours that benefited everyone. The Church was still a strong social power in community and saw that no one went hungry.

Folks grew most of what they wanted/needed and traded with their neighbours for what they needed and didn’t have. No one went without a traditional Christmas dinner. My grandmother raised turkeys all the year long and had an agreement with the butcher in town to take all the birds she could deliver in time for Thanksgiving. The proceeds were her Christmas pin money. And Mom’s family and all their friends had a turkey on the table for the celebration.

Same thing went for beef and hogs and chickens + eggs, and preserves and vegetables. In that spirit, the affordable, yummy Slugburger was born.

Let’s make a Slugburger!

To make a genuine, original Slugburger, you have to go back to 1917, to Corinth, MS, and get the original recipe. It’s not written down. So you’ll have to ask the originator, John Weeks, or his butcher, who prepared his special blend of Ground Beef, Potato Flakes and Flour. Because of the relative abundance of filler and relative lack of fat, you’ll need a little Canola or Corn Oil for cooking. Season well with Salt and Pepper. The starchy components make for a nice crunchy crust while keeping the interior moist and juicy. To be true to Weeks’ vision and heritage, you must top it with Mustard, Pickles and Onions.

Or, you can simply take a sentimental journey to Booneville, MS, visit Weeks’ Diner, run by Old John’s Granddaughters, Diane and Willie Weeks, and have one of theirs. By the way… They now sell these little pieces of Living Culinary History for $1.20.

And consider a road trip to the Annual Slugburger Festival which takes over the whole town of Corinth for three days in the middle of July every summer!

~ Maggie J.