The History of the Hamburger: Why We Gotta Have It

Today the hamburger is probably the most popular sandwich in the United States. You can find it on most menus across the country and it is a go to meal for lunch, dinner and even late night snacks, but do you know the rich history of the hamburger and why we got have it?

Myth or Fact?

Unfortunately, there is no clear inventor of the hamburger. Depending on who you talk to, there are several contenders and different myths connected to America’s favorite sandwich. And the stories date back to ancient Egypt where they are said to have eaten ground meat and to Genghis Khan and his “Golden Horde” who ate raw meat patties of lamb or mutton when out on military campaigns. Then when Genghis Khan’s grandson Khubilai Khan invaded Moscow in 1238, the Russians adopted it into their cuisine calling it “Steak Tartare”. And from there it eventually came over to Europe.

Others prefer to start the story of the origins of the hamburger in Hamburg, Germany where they had a strong cattle industry and their own version of the steak called the “Hamburg Steak”.

When Germans began immigrating to the United States in the 18th and 19th Centuries.., food stands and restaurants began offering a steak cooked in the Hamburg style. The dish was simply shredded beef with regional spices and would be eaten cooked and raw. But how did it turn into a sandwich?

One particular myth states that the hamburger came to America at this time when European emigrants came here on ships run by the Hamburger Lines. On these ships the passengers were apparently served meat patties cooked on a grill and served on two pieces of bread.

Another story that has been passed down is that it was at the Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York in 1800s that the hamburger first showed up on an American menu. Another contender for the inventor of the hamburger is Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin who at the age of 15 sold hamburgers from his food stand at the Outagamie County Fair. The story says that he first started trying to sell meatballs, but people weren’t buying them and he thought it might be because it was difficult to eat while walking around so he flattened the meatballs and served them between bread. Seymour, Wisconsin claims to be the “Home of the Hamburger” and they hold a burger festival every year.

Another big contender is Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio. Their family claims that the two brothers invented the hamburger while traveling in a 100-man concession circuit to different evens in the Midwest in the 1880s. The story goes that while they were working the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, they ran out of pork and so ground up beef and mixed it with spices and served it as a sandwich. They didn’t know what to call the sandwich so took inspiration from the town they were in and called it the hamburger.

Louis Lassen of New Haven, Connecticut is also said to have served the first burger in 1900 at his luncheonette called Louis’ Lunch Wagon. He is said to like to ground up scraps of beef and serve it between two pieces of toast to busy factory workers on the run. What started as a way to save money became a new popular sandwich.

The hamburger really grew in popularity though after the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri after Fletcher Davis from Athens, Texas, began selling hamburgers from his stand at the fair. It was a sandwich he had been selling back home in Athens. He would grill raw hamburger steak until it was crispy on both sides and then place it between two pieces of toast with a piece on raw onion on top of the meat.

While the jury is still out on who developed the hamburger, Walter Anderson of Wichita, Kansas is said to be the first to develop buns to serve the hamburger patties on. He along with Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram founded the White Castle Hamburger in 1921 which is the oldest hamburger chain in America. And since then we have had a love affair with the burger. But why do we gotta have it.

A Juicy Love Affair

Let’s face it. What is there not to love about the hamburger? The juicy meat flavored with just the right amount of spices and the soft bun has become a popular comfort food. People crave it at all times of the day. What is more American than a burger, fries and milkshake? Burgers are not only a staple at most restaurants but also at parties, festivals and barbecues.

What people love the most about the hamburger is how it lends itself to such creativity. A simple hamburger can be topped with cheese or bacon or other toppings to fit any palate. And there are so many ways to serve it, veggie versions and burgers made from organic beef, that even people who are more health conscious or who prefer not to eat meat can find a burger that they enjoy.

A Smart Business Decision

If you want to be your own business owner and are looking to start up in the food truck business, consider buying a Zac’s Burgers burger food truck. Zac’s has already established itself as a family-oriented restaurant who dishes up its own unique take on the burger so you can take advantage of their brand and recipes to get into the burger business yourself.

As a part of the Zac’s family, you will get the support you need to be successful, but you will also have plenty of room to spread your wings and put your own personal stamp on your food truck. Zac’s Burgers offer you plenty of resources on everything from getting your burger food truck to stocking it to how to find the best territories.

Also don’t forget that with a burger food truck, you can also easily cater special events too, everything from employee barbecues to weddings and birthday parties. You will be surprised at how easy the burger can fit into any event.

For more information about getting into the burger food truck business, contact Zac’s Burgers today.

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