Take a bite of that big juicy burger and savor all the ingredients in it – the beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and of course, the buns. Ever wondered who thought of it first or who invented this very delightfully sinful sandwich? Wouldn’t it be nice to shake his or her hand right now and thank him for this very important contribution to the world of food? Let’s find out who this genius is.
There has been much argument on how, who, or when burgers were first prepared or served. But historians are sure that it dates way back into time as there have been records in history that even the ancient Egyptians have already been eating ground meat. And yet in other times, ground meat has also been shaped into patties, being eaten all over the world under many different names. But some believe that it began with the Mongol warriors, who placed raw beef under their saddles as they rode their horses into battle since they did not have the time to stop. When it was time to eat, the meat would be eaten raw, having been tenderized by the saddle and the back of the horse.
The Mongols then invaded Moscow and they brought their unique ground meat dish with them. Thereafter, the Russians adopted it into their own cuisine with the name “Steak Tartare” and this was then considered the origin of the Beef Tartare dish. Over the years, the Russians have also modified the dish, and customized it into their own liking, refining it with chopped onions and raw eggs as well.
For the popular names associated with the first ever burger, we start with Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin. Charlie Nagreen started selling meatballs when he was 15 and, one day in a 1885 fair, he developed an idea to smash the meat together between two pieces of bread so that customers can carry with them the meal wherever they go. He called it a “hamburger” and people have then recognized this as the first burger ever.
The Menches brothers Charles and Frank, involve another account of the first hamburger story. The brothers are recognized for being the inventors of the dish in a 1885 fair in Hamburg, New York. They were originally selling sausages but their stock ran out and they were forced to use ground beef instead. They tried to fry the ground beef, but it was too bland so they decided to put coffee, brown sugar, and some other ingredients in it too. After serving it, a gentleman tasted it and then asked what the dish was called, to which Frank Menches replied, “This is the hamburger”. It is believed that he took the name from Hamburg, NY itself.
When you try looking up “history of burgers”, you might also encounter the name Otto Kuase. He is considered by many as the inventor of the hamburger in 1891 when he created a beef patty cooked in butter, topped with a fried egg. But that is all there is to it, really.
Yet another possible origin involves New Haven, Connecticut’s Louis’ Lunch, a restaurant that has been in business since 1895. In 1900, a local businessman rushed into the small New Haven lunch wagon and asked for an immediate lunch to go. Louis Lassen, the owner, hurriedly sandwiched a broiled hamburger between two slices of bread and sent the customer on his way. This sandwich became very popular since then.
Still, others say that the first hamburger was actually served at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. This burger was made with a cooked patty of ground beef on a hard roll. The sandwich became very popular since then and the New York Tribune namelessly attributed the hamburger as, “the innovation of a food vendor on the pike.”
So as you can see, there are really many claims on who, where, and when the burger was really first prepared. Who was the actual inventor? How did they come up with the name? Do we care? Well that depends on the person in my case not at all, I just wanna eat my burger right now. So, thanks to all of these people who claim to have invented this very special sandwich!