What is a Slugburger?

What is a Slugburger?

This is a frequent question for the first time visitor to Corinth, Mississippi. You’ll find many opinions and explanations when you ask a local about slugburgers. For those who have not sampled this local delicacy featured in many local diners, do not be alarmed. Slugburgers are not made from the terrestrial gastropod mollusk of the same name.

Locally, slugburgers have been overtly or covertly eaten for as long as most living Corinthians can remember. A slugburger is a burger made of a mixture of beef (or pork) and some form of cheaper breading extender which is then deep-fat fried to a golden brown instead of grilled as common hamburger. In earlier days, cornmeal was commonly used as an extender in slugburgers and animal fat was used for frying. In modern times, soybean meal has become the ingredient of choice which adds some protein value to the creation and vegetable oil is commonly used for frying. The standard garnish for a slugburger is mustard, pickle and an ample dose of onions.

A Slugburger is traditionally dressed with pickles, mustard and onions
A Slugburger is traditionally dressed with pickles, mustard and onion

For many years, slugburgers were commonly sold locally for 5 cents or a nickel. A slang expression for a nickel was a slug and hence the most common explanation for the origin of the name slugburger. Another use of the term slug derives from coins which were substitutes and many have related to slugburgers which were substitutes for real hamburgers. Yet another meaning of the term slug in the meat packing trade is for a dressed forequarter of lamb or mutton which could have possibly been used at some point in time in a meat mixture as an additional extender to the more expensive beef. If you are particularly sensitive to fried food or if you over-indulge in slugburgers, you may feel as if someone slugged you in the stomach and some residents believe this is the origin of the term slugburger.

Finally, slugburgers should be served hot and eaten immediately. If they are not and particularly in the days when they were fried in lard, a cold slugburger could bear some visual resemblance to the garden pest and hence the name.

From: A GOURMAND’S Guide To Dining In & Around Corinth, (c) 1992,
Milton Sandy, Jr.