What you should absolutely never order at White Castle

With humble beginnings starting in Wichita, Kansas in 1921 (before moving its headquarters to Columbus, Ohio in 1934), White Castle is America's oldest burger chain. Though it had already made a name for itself, the stoner favorite film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle made the fast food brand ultra famous in 2004. The chain has a very devoted legion of fans and its limited number of locations is perhaps part of its allure. White Castle only has around 400 locations. It's also noteworthy that White Castle has remained privately owned and family run for almost a century.

In the grand scheme of fast food, White Castle isn't necessarily that horrible for you. In fact, Mel Magazine ranked their Original Slider as one of the healthiest fast food burgers you can get — one regular beef slider has only 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 380 milligrams of sodium (this is, of course, assuming you only eat one). But don't be fooled by the tiny burger's blind cult following. There are still some menu items you should definitely steer clear of next time you find yourself face to face with a White Castle menu, either because they're unhealthy, or because they're just plain gross.

Fish Nibblers

Okay, aside from the fact that the name Fish Nibblers sounds like something you put in an aquarium for your goldfish to munch on, these fried balls of fast food fish sticks come with a whopping 1,300 milligrams of sodium if you order a medium size. According to the FDA, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends each person consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. Excessive sodium intake on a regular basis doesn't just mean your rings won't fit — over time it can lead to high blood pressure. However, not everything at White Castle is a sodium bomb: A small side of french fries will only set you back 50 milligrams of sodium.

White Castle uses Alaska Pollock, which is a less expensive alternative to cod or haddock, for its Fish Nibblers and Fish Slider. While Alaska Pollock isn't the worst fish you could eat (it's wild caught, low in calories, full of omega-3 fatty acids, and is low in cholesterol due to such a low saturated fat content), the way White Castle prepares it sort of jacks all the health benefits. The Fish Nibblers are breaded and deep fried, then served with a side of packaged tartar sauce whose fifth main ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. The White Castle nutrition breakdown lists over 30 ingredients in the Fish Nibblers, including shrimp powder and vegetable oil shortening. Shrimp powder? 'Nuff said.

Chicken Rings

What's wrong with a side of Chicken Rings (which can also appear in sandwich form with the Chicken Ring slider), other than the overall principle that you shouldn't ever have the option to "wear" meat on your finger? Six chicken rings contain an eye popping 47 grams of fat (9 grams of which is saturated) and 610 milligrams of sodium. If you can't bear the thought of never enjoying chicken rib meat somehow formed into a circle (seriously how is that done or do we even want to know?) and fried, definitely put your heart first and go with a Chicken Ring sliders (way less fat) over an entire side of rings.

Chicken rings might do a real number on your stomach too. If you need further proof, there is an entire Yelp review page dedicated to Chicago residents lamenting the difficulties White Castle's Chicken Rings have caused for their intestines.

The Impossible Slider

The Impossible Slider got a lot of press when it first debuted. Not to be confused with White Castle's Veggie Slider, the vegan Impossible Slider was created in collaboration with California based plant-based food enthusiasts, Impossible Foods. Their meat substitute mimics the taste of real beef, and gives the appearance of real meat that browns and "bleeds." 

The key ingredient is soy leghemoglobin (SLH). The FDA denied Impossible Foods' application for FDA approval in 2015 citing not enough data to prove that SLH was GRAS (FDA speak for 'generally recognized as safe'). Impossible Foods admittedly never conducted any official human studies on the safety of the ingredient (it studied rats instead). SLH is questionable because it's considered a GMO. The SLH gene is taken from the soybean and placed in strains of yeast by way of genetic engineering technology. The product is genetically modified yeast. The SLH is then isolated from the yeast and added to the "meat."

Early researchers of GMO food safety pointed out that human immune systems are not familiar with newly modified proteins so therefore they can potentially be immunogenic and ultimately allergenic. In July of 2018, the company finally got FDA approval but there are still concerns around the safety of the Impossible brand, which is why vegetarians at White Castle might want to stick with the Veggie Slider.

Double Cheese Slider Combo

While undoubtedly delicious and sure to satisfy someone super hungry, hungover, or both, the Double Cheese Slider Combo is a basically a heart attack in a sack. Of course, the addition of fries tacks on a lot more calories but just one of the double-stacked sliders has 17 grams of fat and 940 milligrams of sodium — this combo comes with two. 

The entire meal has 950 calories, but that's based on White Castle's wise decision to calculate the total calories if the drink in the combo is a small Diet Coke. If someone gets a larger Coke, you can add on another 260 to 500 calories (not to mention a whole lot more sugar). Even Staci Gulbin, a registered dietitian consulting with Eat This, Not That! agrees, if you're going to order at White Castle, there are options that are way healthier than the Double Cheese Slider Combo, like the Original Slider, Cheese Slider, Jalapeno Cheese Slider or plain Savory Grilled Chicken Slider.

Clam Strips

The clam strips are only available on certain White Castle menus (depends on the region) but where they are available, they aren't really getting a warm reception. Most employees of White Castle praise the place and its food in online forums. But that didn't stop one alleged White Castle worker from saying they'd definitely nix clam strips from the menu in a Reddit thread. They didn't give a reason, but we're guessing we don't want to know.

The people have spoken when it comes to the clam strips. Popular YouTube food critic JKMCraveTV definitely warns White Castle visitors to avoid the clams. His main critiques include that the clam strips "look like chicken feet," are "all breading and a little hint of clam," and are "rubbery" with "no significant clam taste." Yikes! 

YouTube food enthusiast Fun Food Funnies had a similar disdain for the clam strips, describing them as, "wormy and squishy," tasting like "old grease in a fryer," and "chewing on old rubber bands." An unhappy customer on Yelp also cited a rubber taste and simply dubbed them "no bueno." The moral of the story is, if you're going to go to White Castle, stick with what it does best (hint: it's not clam strips).

2 Breakfast Toast Sandwich Combo

Ahhh, bacon or sausage?! What's a hungry person to do when faced with a decision so intense, and so early in the morning? Well, at White Castle, you can just get both in one meal. It's also a sure fire way to get the bulk of the day's recommended caloric intake as soon as you wake up. 

Assuming you don't have a marathon to run the next day, it's highly unlikely you need the entire 1130 calories that make up the 2 Breakfast Toast Sandwich Combo meal. Beyond the two sandwiches, which come with your choice of egg, American cheese and either sausage or bacon, the breakfast offering includes a side of hash browns (or Hash Brown Nibblers, if you will, because if White Castle is anything, it's consistent with that darn Nibbler trademark) and coffee.

If you're going to get breakfast at White Castle and want to save yourself some calories, order something that comes with the signature tiny buns, like the Bacon, Egg & Cheese Slider. It was even named one of the best fast food breakfast sandwiches by Serious Eats.

Original or Sriracha Shrimp Nibblers

Both versions of the Shrimp Nibbler are limited edition, special promotion menu items. Much like the exclusive and beloved McDonald's McRib and its multiple comebacks, White Castle likes to keep customers on their toes with the potential #FOMO of not trying these specialty foods when they're available. But a reviewer from the New York Daily News seemed unimpressed with the Shrimp Nibblers, saying they definitely need tartar sauce. And a very dissatisfied White Castle customer in Shakopee, Minnesota took to Trip Advisor to say the Shrimp Nibblers were "nothing special" with "really no flavor at all."

Self-produced broadcaster from the YouTube channel The Report of the Week was very disappointed in the Sriracha Shrimp Nibblers (especially compared to Popeyes Butterfly Shrimp), claiming the shrimp comes with an excessive amount of "buttery saltiness" especially once you factor in the very salty breading, saying it's "way too much salt, to the point of discomfort." Fooduse.com reviewer Food Dip tried the Sriracha Shrimp Nibblers and told his YouTube subscribers there "isn't much of a Sriracha flavor" and that he didn't even "get much of a shrimp flavor," saying they're "very salty" and actually "taste like chicken." He ultimately gave them a three out of five rating, which isn't bad considering everything he had to say about them.

Crab Cake Slider

There seems to be a recurring theme with the White Castle no-go menu picks and that theme is underwater. The Crab Cake Slider, another recurring limited edition item, is no exception. According to YouTube vlogger The Fat Hipster, the cakes are "bland," "mushed in the middle" and short on crab. He relays a "mild seafood like flavor" and says, "if you gave someone this without telling them it was crab, they might not even know" and suggests you only order it "if you're desperate… on Friday during Lent." It's never a good sign when someone only recommends a food for when someone is in a state of desperation.

YouTube adventurist WWEXPOKEMON360 tried the Crab Cake Slider in real time in one of this videos and promptly spit it out, spewing expletives and dubbing it, "disgusting," "like a Filet-O-Fish left out in the sun too long," and "horrible and nasty." He concluded by recommending no one waste their money on the Crab Cake Slider. 

New York based competitive eater Wayne Algenio reviewed the sandwich on his YouTube channel and reported it tasting like "salmon in a can," and also proclaiming, "I wouldn't get it again." A price tag of just over $1 for crab is suspicious, even if it is White Castle.

Any of the beef sliders...if you really, REALLY loathe onions

Do you have an intense hatred for onions or anything remotely onion related? No matter how good you've heard they are, White Castle's beef sliders might not be for you. Sure you can tell them to "hold the onions," but that will never remove their deeply rooted onion essence. White Castle steams its beef patties over a pile of onions. They spread onions (or rehydrated onions) over the grill, then put the patties on top. The distinct five holes in the meat patties are a signature of White Castle. The holes help the cooking process, which is to steam rather than grill like you would a traditional hamburger patty.

The buns soak up the onion steam too, hence the reason why they're so nice and pillowy—and also hella greasy. The onion-laced preparation process isn't a deal breaker for everyone (obviously, most people love it, or White Castle wouldn't be so popular) but it could be a major deterrent for the world's onions haters. And to end on a rather gross note, there is an entire Yahoo answers page dedicated to the question of why White Castle burgers tend to cause diarrhea for so many people, and someone responded there with the theory that the excessive amount of grease and folic acid in the onions may be to blame. People also suggest that the immediate urge to use the bathroom might be why they're called "sliders." McDonald's, anyone?