Hamburger chain White Castle has issued an online call for entries for its 13th Annual Cravers Hall of Fame Contest to acknowledge its biggest fans.
Cravers are White Castle's most emphatic enthusiasts. Or, as the White Castle website puts it, a Craver is "not just a person but a state of being."
The term originated in the early 1990s when White Castle had a psychologist interview fans. They, in turn, repeatedly described an insatiable craving for White Castle products. Jamie Richardson, vice president of White Castle, says, "This seems to be the genesis for Craver Nation."
In order to participate, Cravers can submit stories about their relationship with White Castle, why White Castle is meaningful to them, and what efforts they have made to satisfy cravings for White Castle on the Hall of Fame section of the White Castle website.
According to the brand, stories are evaluated for originality, duration, and extent of the "Crave."
The entry period is open through July 31. In the first week, Richardson says White Castle received "dozens and dozens" of applications.
According to a press release, the White Castle Hall of Fame has inducted 147 Cravers out of 9,545 applicants. That, Richardson says, means the White Castle Hall of Fame is even more selective than Harvard. (The White Castle website says only 91 have been inducted.)
The site features inductees by year, as well as "Legends" and "Craver Favorites."
Inductees include a couple who drove from Montana to Illinois for Valentine's Day dinner at White Castle and an individual who ate at the same White Castle in the Bronx for over 257 consecutive Fridays, as well as Speaker of the House John Boehner, TV Producer Alex Weresow, the stars of the movie "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," and the band The Smithereens, which sings the "White Castle Blues."
Hall of Famers are chosen by a panel of judges, including White Castle team members. Richardson says the brand is looking for "love and devotion of White Castle" as well as "colorful stories of the lengths they go to [in order] to satisfy their cravings."
Once chosen, inductees are invited to White Castle's hometown - Columbus, Ohio - to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in October.
"They come as strangers and leave as friends," Richardson says.
In return, Hall of Famers receive a nod on White Castle's website, as well as "an absolute emotional reward that few can equal," Richardson says. "But the real reward is the chance to spend time with Cravers. Beyond that, we have to keep prices low, so we can't do a Nobel Prize kind of thing...but they're rich in terms of memories that will last a lifetime."
White Castle owns and operates more than 400 restaurants in 12 states.
The brand says its loyalty program, Craver Nation, "connects like-minded Cravers from around the globe in a social media setting."
As of Tuesday, White Castle has 854,000 likes on Facebook and 36,000 Twitter followers.
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March 19, 2014