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York County woman Deborah Doemland joins White Castle Hall of Fame

Oct 16, 2023

Family and food, the two go together like bread and butter, or in this case – bread and burger.

As trends come and go, it's the long-practiced traditions that withstand the test of time.

For Deborah Doemland, of Newberry Township, an enthusiast of all-things White Castle, her burger journey holds not just a love for the fast-food restaurant's famous sliders, but also a connection to her family's rich history.

Doemland recalled the story of her grandparents’ simple yet memorable first date, which occurred in 1925, just four years after the burger joint opened.

"Grandpa (Henry Decker) was in college, and took Grandma (Guinevere Kreutz) to a movie, and then a White Castle in New Jersey for sliders and coffee."

In the early moments of that dinner date, inside the blue and white porcelain steel building, the two shared sliders, laughter and a delicious memory.

"In his own words, grandpa said that's when he was smitten with grandma," who went by Gwen.

Their love for the family-owned hamburger chain became a cherished family tradition, passed down to their children and grandchildren.

One of these traditions is held every Aug. 21, called "Slider Day," where Doemland and her husband drive to Allentown, home of Pennsylvania's only White Castle restaurant, and pick up a handful of "craver clutch" boxes, containing sliders and fries, they later distribute to relatives.

"Then we go around to our family and friends that we can reach in Carlisle, Stevensville, and deliver them and then we talk about grandma and grandpa - it just keeps them in everyone's hearts."

Doemland continues to carry the torch of her grandparents’ devotion to White Castle, recently with an honor – an induction into the White Castle Cravers Hall of Fame.

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Every year, the family-owned burger chain inducts a new set of White Castle fans, or cravers, into a Hall of Fame. The honorees receive free travel to White Castle's home office in Columbus, Ohio and attend a reception in their honor.

Thousands each year submit essays that paint a picture of the ways people make memories and connect over White Castle. Some tales are funny, others are personal and heartfelt.

Doemland's essay detailed the celebrated holidays she created for the entire family to enjoy their shared heritage.

Included in her essay were "Nancy Foose Day," where Doemland's family members enjoy frozen strawberry treats in honor of her great-grandmother Nancy, who loved strawberry ice cream, and "Slider Day," which honors her grandparents' first date, falling in love over sliders and coffee.

"This was a tribute to my family and my grandparents - I loved them dearly," Doemland said.

Each inductee takes home a plaque commemorating the distinction, and White Castle fans everywhere will get to know them via their personal stories featured on the iconic Slider boxes, which will roll out later this year.

"When we got there, I met the other inductees and heard their stories. By the end, it was like we were family - it was surreal."

For Doemland, White Castle is more than just a burger chain restaurant, it brought her closer to family and allowed for new traditions to be made and celebrated.

Lena Tzivekis is a Central pa reporter. Have a story? Email her at [email protected], or message her on Twitter at @tzivekis

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