Selmer’s slugburgers

If MacDonald’s was conjuring up some new burgers, they would probably not call them “slugburgers.”

That’s the name given to burgers whose patties are a mixture of ground beef and soy grits. These delicacies came about during the Depression as a means of saving money in those hard times, and they got the name “slugburger” because they cost a nickel, which was known in some areas as a “slug.”

Corinth, Mississippi is the epicenter of slugburgerdom, with a Slugburger Festival in July, but just north and across the state line in Tennessee, Selmer is the place to go for this culinary experience. I tried for years to get a slugburger in Selmer, but every time I came through town, the two leading slugburger emporiums were closed. Seems that they open for breakfast at 4:00 AM and by 2:00 PM the proprietors are ready to go home and take a nap. They tend to never see the Tonight Show or Letterman.

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We stopped first at 137 South Second Street at Wink’s, pictured above, a small place barely big enough for an L-shaped counter surrounding the kitchen. Becky and Randy cooked up our first slugburgers, which are customarily served on buns with mustard, onions, and pickles. The patty is very thin–about three-eighths of an inch. Being fried, it has a golden exterior and a white interior that doesn’t have a whole lot of taste. The condiments tend to overwhelm it.

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Randy showed me the soy grits that Wink’s uses when they mix up their slugburgers. You can see it below:

 

 

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Wink’s gets their soy grits from some place in Pennsylvania, and Randy reports that soy grits don’t make good breakfast grits. I’ll take his word for it.

We then decamped for Pat’s, the other main slugburger emporium just a couple of blocks away at the corner of Court and Third Streets. We were there on Halloween, and Pat and her help wore wings. “We’re not angels, we’re fairies,” pronounced Pat, “and I am the head fairy.”

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Pat has her slugburgers made by someone else, but she cooks them in a fryer just on the other side of the counter. Here’s a shot looking straight down:

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Pat’s slugburgers are thinner than Wink’s. How does one cap off a slugburger meal? With a homemade fried pie, of course! Pat has her pies made somewhere else, and offers peach, apple, creamy chocolate, coconut, and old-fashioned chocolate. I was intrigued and ordered the final one, which had a granular quality like homemade fudge in a fried pie.

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I could almost feel my arteries clogging up, but Lord have mercy, it was good. I’ve heard that soy products are supposed to be good for combating cholesterol, so maybe a slugburger is the ideal counterbalance for a fried pie.

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