Walking through the door of Borroum’s Drug Store and Old Fashioned Soda Fountain for the first time may give visitors a sense of walking into the past.
A landmark on the courthouse square of Corinth, Borroum’s is the oldest continuously operating drugstore in Mississippi. Today, it’s part pharmacy, part soda fountain and restaurant and part local history.
While patrons are waiting for their prescriptions to be filled or their lunches to be served, they can browse collections of Native American or Civil War relics housed inside the building. And, as might be expected from a store with a fully functioning soda fountain, the artifacts extend to the menu – in the form of its famous slugburger.
Don’t worry, this burger is in no way associated with the garden-variety gastropods. Slugburgers are Southern Depression-era delicacies that, at the time, cost only a nickel, or in local slang, a slug. At a time when hamburger and other meat was hard to come by, slugburgers incorporated grain fillers that helped extend the meat. Then, they were breaded and fried in lard.
Today, Borroum’s slugburger is made in a similar fashion. It’s a mixture of ground pork, soy flour and spices. The imitation hamburger patty is deep fried in vegetable fat and served on a hamburger bun garnished with mustard, onion and pickles.
“On Saturdays, you go to Borroum’s and have a slugburger. It’s a local tradition,” says Angela Avent, director of Main Street Corinth.
It’s such a tradition, in fact, that her organization plans an annual two-day Slugburger Festival that’s held each July in Corinth.
The festival features a local idol talent competition in the tradition of American Idol, a lineup of musical performers and a carnival. Of course, there’s also a slugburger-eating contest for local connoisseurs.
What has grown into a significant annual festival for the town, however, had a modest beginning. It got its roots simply after a street-vending venture by Borroum’s.
“One summer, they decided to just bring their deep fryers outside, and they sold the slugburgers right on the street,” Avent says.
The rest is history. July marks the 32nd annual Slugburger Festival.
Founder Dr. Andrew Jackson “Jack” Borroum stands to be proud of his legacy.
He opened the store in 1865 after being released from a Northern prison camp at the end of the Civil War. The doctor had served as a Confederate surgeon during the war and reportedly doctored the Northern armies after his capture.
On his way home to Oxford, Borroum stopped in Corinth to visit an old friend who convinced him that they should go into medical practice together. He agreed and began making and dispensing medicines upon opening shop.
The original building was located on what is now Cruise Street, near where the Corinth Gas and Water Company sits today.
The business moved to its current location when the courthouse was built, and the building that now houses Borroum’s was constructed in 1843. Originally a tannery and livery stable, its walls are four bricks thick.
Jack ran the business for 32 years, sometimes taking eggs, chickens and various other livestock as means of payment and closing his clients’ accounts only upon their deaths.
The enterprising doctor even published his own newspaper, Dr. A.J. Borroum’s Courier, which included the latest medical and local almanac information, as well as entertainment.
Col. James Lannes Borroum, Jack’s grandson, serves as the longest-running manager. He ran the store from 1937 to 1975 and receives credit for “modernizing” it by adding the soda fountain and a jukebox.
Borroum’s Drug Store and Old Fashioned Soda Fountain is located at 604 E. Waldron St., and the store’s hours of operation run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Borroum’s is closed on Sundays.
For more information, call the store at (662) 286-3361.
Today, Jack’s great-granddaughter, Camille Borroum Mitchell – Corinth’s first female pharmacist – operates the drugstore with her son, Lex.
With Lex’s daughter, Lesley, helping out, the store has now been in service for more than 150 years and includes several generations of Borroum family members.