Borroum's Drug Store sits on a tidy stretch of East Waldron Street in Corinth, Mississippi, with an American flag waving out front. Inside, black-and-white checkered floors compete for attention with a wide array of local memorabilia. Red leather stools offer seating at the antique soda fountain, and there's even an iron-clad manual cash register from 1926 that sends a “ca-ching” through the store when they ring you up.
On the Road: Burgers Born of Thrift
Originally opened as a pharmacy and soda fountain in 1865, Borroum's has gained much of its present-day popularity for the slugburger, a combination of ground pork and a filler, typically soybean meal or corn or wheat flour, that was originally incorporated to stretch the meat to feed more people. The burgers, which Borroum's started selling in the late 1970s, are deep-fried until crisp on the outside and, thanks to the filler, still very moist inside. “Mustard, onion, and pickle. That's what you eat with them,” says owner Alexis “Lex” Borroum Mitchell.
Lex tells me that slugburgers have been sold in Corinth since the Great Depression. “Meat was scarce back then. So they used a little bit of meat and put an extender in it, whether it be soybeans or soy grits, ‘soy extender,’ I think they'd say. And they sold [the burgers] for a nickel. That's where they got the name ‘slugburger,’ because a nickel was considered a ‘slug.’”
Lex's mother, Camille Borroum Mitchell, started working at the family drugstore as a dishwasher when she was about 13 years old, and by 16 she eventually made her way into a job helping out in the pharmacy. She later attended pharmacy school at the University of Mississippi, graduating in 1948, and at age 94 is still a licensed pharmacist at Borroum's.
As I finish my slugburger, Camille joins me and leans in to tell the story of a New York publication that once called her inquiring about what exactly they put in their slugburgers. “They wanted to know if they were the garden variety.” She laughs. “I said these are not your garden-variety slugburgers.”