We take a look at the enigmatic origins of the world’s most popular food… the hamburger!
If you look back a few thousand years, you’ll find that even the ancient Egyptians ate ground beef patties, and over the centuries ground beef has been molded into patties and eaten around the world under many different names. But exactly when and where the modern hamburger was born is much harder to pin down. Several people in the US, from New Haven, Connecticut, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, confidently state that their ancestors invented it.
Controversial as it is, the history of the hamburger is really a history that has been through the meat grinder. Legends say it began with the Mongols, who hid chunks of beef, lamb or mutton under their saddles as they roamed the globe in their campaign to conquer the known world, just as McDonald’s has done for the past half century.
The tenderized meat became flattened patties, and after spending enough time between the asses of man and beast, the meat became tender enough to eat raw—certainly a boon for fast riders who don’t wish to dismount.
When Genghis Khan’s grandson Kublai Khan and his hordes invaded Moscow, they naturally brought their unique dietary ground beef with them. The Russians adopted it into their own kitchen under the name “Steak Tartare” (Tartars is its name for the Mongols). Over many years Russian chefs adapted and developed this dish and refined it by adding chopped onions and raw eggs.
Later, when world trade picked up, seafarers brought this idea back to the port city of Hamburg, Germany, where the Deutschvolk decided to breadcrumb it into a fillet and cook it, making something that, outside of Hamburg, , is known as “Hamburg steak”, a now more popular dish nowadays, of all places, Japan, where almost every menu lists it in Western fare as “Hamburg-style cooked steak” or “hanbagu “.
But enough of fishing in European and Asian waters; let’s cut the bait here. Somehow, the ground beef makes its way to the United States. Somehow it is put into a bun. But by whom? Surely the historical record should become clearer once we reach American shores. Unfortunately, it is not.
While some have written that the first American hamburger (actually Hamburger Steak) was served in 1834 at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City, this oft-cited origin is not based on Delmonico’s original menu, but on a facsimile, which was discredited; The published facsimile is possibly not correct, as the printer for the alleged original menu was not even in business in 1834!
If a ground beef patty sandwiched between two slices of bun is a hamburger, credit goes to Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin, who, at the age of 15, was selling hamburgers from his oxen-drawn concession stand at the county fair. Outagamie County. He went to the fair and set up a stand selling meatballs.
Business was not going well and he quickly realized it was because the dumplings were too hard to eat while strolling through the fair.
In a flash of innovation, he flattened the meatballs, placed them between two slices of bread, and called his new creation a hamburger. He was known to many as “Hamburger Charlie.” He went back to selling hamburgers at the fair every year until his death in 1951, entertaining people with his guitar and harmonica and this jingle:
“Burgers, burgers, hot burgers; onions in the middle, pickle on top. Makes your lips go crazy.”
The city of Seymour is so sure of this statement that it calls itself the “Home of the Burger,” holds the record for the world’s largest burger, and hosts a burger festival every year.
However, to be fair, the descendants of county fair dealer Frank Menches and If If restaurateur Louis Lassen also claim that their ancestors invented the hamburger, served on bun, in 1892 and 1900, respectively.
Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut claims to have invented our favorite food. From his website: “One day in the early 1900s, a man rushed into a small New Haven diner and ordered a quick meal that he could eat on the run. Louis Lassen, the owner of the establishment, rushed to sandwich a hamburger of roast beef between two slices of bread and sent the customer on his way, as the story goes, with America’s first hamburger.”
This claim is countered by the family of Frank and Charles Menches of Akron, Ohio, who now operate a small chain called, unsurprisingly, Menches Bros., and claim that their great-grandfather Charles and brother Frank invented the dish while traveling on a concession circuit at fairs, race meetings and farmer’s picnics in the Midwest.
According to family legend, the brothers originally sold sausages, but they ran out and were forced to use ground beef, which was considered out of order at the time. Since they had nothing to sell, they bought some ground meat and, when frying it, found it too soft. Then they decided to put coffee, brown sugar and a few other homemade ingredients on it and made the sandwich. Frank didn’t really know what to call it, so when a gentleman asked him what he looked like, he looked up and saw the banner of the
Hamburg Fair and said: “This is the hamburger.” In Frank’s 1951 obituary in the Los Angeles Times, he is credited as the “inventor” of the hamburger.
But some say that a burger really isn’t a burger unless it’s on a bun. If so, farmer and restaurateur Oscar Weber Bilby of Tulsa, Oklahoma deserves credit for serving the first known “hamburger on a bun” in 1891. According to http://www.whatscookingamerica.net, Bilby’s hamburgers were served in Mrs. Bilby’s table Homemade yeast buns.
From all the research that has been done, it is likely that the hamburger arose independently in many different places in the US. Regardless of where it was invented, most people agree that the hamburger caught on. for the first time in 1904, and McDonald’s historians agree.
That’s when merchant Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas, served up the burger at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Davis spread a mixture of ground mustard and mayonnaise on slices of thick bread and topped the burger with pickles and a slice of Bermuda onion. He reportedly created quite a sensation, and after the World’s Fair, newspaper reports helped spread the idea of the hamburger across the country.
In the 1920s, the hamburger was available at the White Castle quick-service restaurant chain and the man who gave the hamburger its contemporary look and sought to expand the product’s appeal through chain operations was J. Walter Anderson. , a Wichita, Kansas resident who went on to co-found the White Castle Hamburger system, the oldest continuously operating hamburger chain.
With the help of Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram’s marketing savvy, White Castle reached five units in the 1920s, selling a standardized product for five cents. White Castle would later pioneer the concept of chain marketing with the advertising slogan “Buy ’em by the sack”.
Another early pioneer in the development of chains through hamburgers was the Wimpy Grills chain, launched in 1934, in homage to J. Wellington Wimpy, the chubby, mustachioed cartoon character who hangs out with Popeye and was famous for say “I would gladly pay you”. Burger Tuesday Today.” Wimpy’s was groundbreaking in two respects: It was the first chain to try to woo an upscale restaurant with 10-cent burgers, and it was the first to go overseas. But when its founder, Ed Gold, died in 1978, the chain briefly disappeared in accordance with a provision in his will that all 1,500 units close.But you can’t keep a good burger, and Wimpy’s is still with us in England today.
Throughout the 1930s, drive-in hamburger restaurants featuring carhops on roller skates sprang up, and that’s when cheese was first used on hamburgers. In fact, in 1935, a Humpty-Dumpty Drive-In in Denver, Colorado tried to trademark the name “cheeseburger.” And since Bob’s Big Boy introduced the first double burger, new varieties of burgers have been created. Today, people enjoy chicken burgers, veggie burgers, and quarter-pound burgers with lots of different toppings, like lettuce,
mushrooms, cheese, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, pickles, you name it, it’s been put on a burger.
In the 1950s, the hamburger was an American icon. Backyard cookouts were a favorite pastime, but it wasn’t until a Czech milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc met two brothers named McDonald’s that the course of hamburger history would change forever. and the product would be chiselled right off of mom’s apple. cake as an american icon. Maurice and Richard McDonald opened their first drive-thru McDonald’s in 1948 in San Bernardino, California, as an alternative to drive-ins, as a
Hot dog stand and freshly squeezed orange juice. Three decades later, McDonald’s would rank alongside General Motors, IBM, and Microsoft as symbols of American capitalist might.
Following in the footsteps of McDonald’s are Burger King, home of the grilled burger, Wendy’s with its signature square burgers, and Carl’s Jr/Hardees, which, in addition to having the best burgers in the world, is famous for the Paris Hilton ad campaign. from last year (featuring a scantily clad Hilton washing a car in a bikini, introducing the notion that eating big burgers is a sign of masculinity), and its biggest fast food burger, the Monster Thickburger, with two beef patties, three slices of cheese, six strips of bacon, 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat, a real man’s meal.
You see, their big burgers are quite popular because to cut down on cooking and serving time, other fast food burger chains have thinner burgers than you’d find at a restaurant. The Carl’s Jr. restaurant chain recognized this with the US introduction of the “Six Dollar Burger,” which features a burger the same size as those served in sit-down restaurants, but at a higher price point. low.
Whether grilled, broiled, steamed, fried or cooked on both sides at once on double-sided griddles or slathered with ketchup, mayonnaise, cheese or even teriyaki sauce or buried under onion, avocado or mushrooms, the burger it is to the restaurant industry as wings are to aviation. A century after its debut, the hamburger has certainly maintained its appeal. In fact, according to some sources, it is the number one food in the world, with 60% of all sandwiches eaten being hamburgers!