The slugburger – or the doughburger – was a product of the Great Depression, when cooks added extenders like flour, potato flakes, corn meal or grits to stretch the meat, which could be pork or beef. The formed patties were then deep fried and served on a bun with pickles, mustard and onions.
Local lore has several different stories for the name “slugburger,” but the most popular says the name came about in reference to the cost of the burger – 5 cents. Back then, a “slug” was slang for a nickel.
Decades have passed, and the doughburger has hung on in Northeast Mississippi. It is celebrated at two local festivals: the Dudie Burger Festival, which marked its fifth year in May, and the Slugburger Festival in Corinth, which marked its 22nd year last week.
“It really is a regional delicacy,” said Kelly Rinehart, the director of Corinth’s Main Street program. “I don’t know of any other place that has them. Maybe some transplants might serve them, but they are pretty regional.”
There isn’t much difference between a slugburger or a doughburger, but Rinehart recommends checking the menu to see what the restaurant calls it before making a faux pas and ordering a doughburger at a slugburger joint.
Kenneth McGehee, curator of the Oren Dunn Museum, which hosts the Dudie Burger Festival, agreed. But he leans toward calling them doughburgers – the category he thinks Tupelo-created Dudie burgers belong.
“There’s not that much of a difference, but Dudie burgers are so much better,” he said with a big laugh.
At most doughburger places, beef burgers also are sold, but you have to specify you want a beef burger. Rinehart says slugburgers are by far more popular than beef burgers in Corinth, but nationally, beef burgers are feeling the love.
May is National Burger Month. Web sites abound with exaltations about the food in all its various forms.
Burger clubs are spread throughout the country, with The New York Times writing about burger clubs in the Big Apple several times. In fact, in May, the Times and New York Magazine wrote about the Burger of the Month Club and Burger Club New York.
Magazines like the Food Network Magazine frequently do stories on the nation’s best burgers. In the June/July issue of the periodical, popular chef Bobby Flay picked out the burgers he thought were the “most exciting, interesting, wacky or otherwise fabulous” in each state. They were called the “one burger you absolutely have to try in every state.”
Mississippi’s burger? The slugburger at White Trolley Cafe in Corinth. For 85 cents, it’s a bargain compared with others listed upward of $10.
Here are six places Daily Journal readers recommend for a good burger, whether you fancy the beef or dough version.