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7 Historic Dishes Born From Tough Times

People have always been creative when it comes to finding something to eat, and also creative in stretching what you have to feed a family. During food shortages, wartime, or the Great Depression, almost everyone had a hard time obtaining the food they were used to, so they made do. Many of those recipes are still around, like the slugburger.

As you find yourself stretching packs of ground beef, consult the “meat extending” techniques of the Great Depression. When hard times hit the greasy spoons of the American South, restaurant owners supplemented their thinning patties of ground beef or pork with potato flour. Fried, topped with mustard, and slid between buns, the resulting “slugburgers” had perfectly crisp exteriors that gave way to the juicy meat inside. Despite the name, they didn’t contain any slithery creatures. One theory says the snack’s moniker was a reference to counterfeit coins, known as “slugs,” implying that the burger was a sort of culinary impostor.

Today, line cooks tend to use cornmeal, soybean meal, or even crumbled sandwich bread instead of potato flour, and add toppings such as cheese, onions, and pickles.

Funny, when I was a kid, I did not know you could make hamburgers without mixing a whole sleeve of saltines into the ground beef. Then I grew up and found you can save even more money by not buying meat at all. The slugburger is one of the milder desperation recipes you'll find at Atlas Obscura. -via Nag on the Lake

(Image credit: Southern Foodways Alliance)

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