History of Hamburger
Tuesday, 10 April 2018

When you think of iconic American food, one cannot help but think of hamburgers. It’s very difficult to drive more than a few miles without running into a hamburger joint these days.Hamburgers are so popular, they’ve become an art form of their own. Restaurants are constantly trying to top one another to see who can come up with the most unique burger.



The history of this sandwich is rich but still unclear.

Not American

While the hamburger is most often associated with American cuisine, the truth is this sandwich finds its origins elsewhere. One theory says the sandwich got its start in Hamburg, Germany. It’s said that German butchers would chop up cheap cuts of beef and form it into a patty, much like that of a Salisbury steak. This was known as the Hamburg Steak, which German immigrants brought over to America.

The Bread

While the Hamburg Steak was served as a cooked meat patty on a dish, bread entered the picture later, and again, like the origins of the hamburger itself, when and how remains unclear.

Many historians believe the bread came into the picture around 1847 on the Hamburg America Line, which was a shipping company operating out of Hamburg, Germany. However, another claims the bread idea came via a cookbook titled “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” which came out in 1758. This cookbook featured sausage served on top of toasted bread.

Another idea says a man by the name of Fletcher Davis, who operated a lunch counter back in the 1880s started serving cooked ground beef patties along with onions and mustard between two slices of bread.

Lastly, it’s believed a man named Charlie Nagreen, who sold food at the Seymour Fair in Seymour, Wisconsin put a “meatball” between two slices of bread, earning him the name “Hamburger Charlie”.

The Bun

Up to this point, hamburgers were sold between two slices of traditional bread, but in 1916, a short order cook named J. Walter Anderson made the first bun on which to serve the meat. Then, in 1921, Anderson along with another man named Billy Ingram opened the first White Castle hamburger shop in Kansas, and the traditional hamburger as we know it today was born.

Original Trailblazers

Many firsts came after these:

  • In the 1940s, the In-n-Out Burger became the first drive-thru restaurant, which also sold a lot of hamburgers.
  • The 1950s saw a little restaurant called McDonald’s getting their start, which furthered the popularity of the hamburger throughout America.
  • In 1937 the owner of Bob’s Big Boy created what many believe to be the first “double-decker” burger, and it was around this time that someone got the idea to add cheese to the mix, making the first cheeseburger.
  • After that, the sky was the limit when it came to burgers, and today we can enjoy almost any kind of burger you can think of.

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