When it comes to food, the hamburger is one of the most popular menu items of all time! Whether you’re eating the best hamburger in New York in a diner or cooking up a patty for yourself in your own kitchen, this meal can do no wrong. It’s great for lunch, dinner, or just a bite to eat when you’re famished. You can top it however you like with everything from ketchup to mayo to pickles and cheese. The list goes on and on.
Where did the hamburger come from? Some people say the Mongols, while other maintain it was invented in America. Even in America, however, three people lay claim to inventing the burger!
Legend says that the Mongols had raw beef stashed under their horses’ saddles to eat. Wedged between weight and saddle, this process acted as a tenderizer and made the meat softer and easier to eat raw. Kublai Khan and the Mongols carried this practice to Russia, who took the food and ran with it– turning into steak tartare, the famed dish consisting of thinly sliced raw meat.
Steak tartare eventually spread beyond Russia and ended up in Germany. They took the concept and changed it up a bit, shaping the pieces together and cooking them. This became known as a Hamburg steak. The idea of taking a bunch of small pieces of beef and forming them into a solid shape eventually made its way to America. The only problem: multiple people and places claim to have invented it. Louis’ Lunch claims that they invented the burger in 1900.
Louis Lassen is said to have invented the burger on the spot quite by accident. A man came into the restaurant in a hurry and asked Louis if they could make him a meal that he could eat on the go and fast. Louis was said to have broiled a beef patty and put it between two slices of bread, and the hamburger was born.
Charlie Nagreen also invented the burger in 1885 in Seymour, Wisconsin. Charlie was selling meatballs as a teenager in the Seymour summer fair. When the meatballs did not sell as well as he hoped one day, Charlie was struck by an idea to acquire some bread. That way, customers would be able to eat their meatballs on the go instead of having to sit down and use a fork. He also is said to have invented the name ‘hamburger’ as well– although where that came from out of meatballs, no one quite knows.
Others say it was the Menches brothers who invented the burger. Family members of the brothers say that Charles and Frank Menches invented the dish in 1885 in Hamburg, New York. The story goes that the brothers had nothing to sell once they ran out of sausages, so they fried some beef up and called it the hamburger, as they were at the Hamburg Fair.
Who really invented the burger? It depends on who you ask! All we know is that the honor is disputed and the world may never truly know. But someone did, and to that person, we salute you. Long live the burger, in all its incarnations and forms!