Burger Facts and History

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The hamburger, a symbol of American culinary culture, has a rich and varied history that spans continents and centuries. While the exact origins of this beloved sandwich are somewhat murky, its evolution is a testament to cultural exchange and culinary innovation.

The concept of minced meat dates back to the Mongol Empire, where horsemen would stash raw meat under their saddles to tenderize it for consumption. This practice eventually spread to Russia, where it became known as “steak Tartare.” It wasn’t until the 19th century that the concept truly began to take the shape of the modern hamburger. German immigrants brought the “Hamburg steak” to the United States, a dish that was popular in the German city of Hamburg. It was a simple mix of minced beef seasoned with garlic, onions, salt, and pepper, then formed into patties without a bun.

"Man's Greatest Achievement--Worlds Fair--St. Louis--Don't Fail to See It." Billboard at State and Washington Streets in Minneapolis, Minnesota advertising the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.
Mans Greatest AchievementWorlds FairSt LouisDont Fail to See It Billboard at State and Washington Streets in Minneapolis Minnesota advertising the 1904 Worlds Fair in St Louis

The transition from Hamburg steak to the hamburger as we know it today likely occurred at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. It was here that the concept of serving the patty between two slices of bread was popularized, making it a convenient and portable meal for fairgoers. This innovation was a turning point, transforming the hamburger from a sit-down meal to a fast and easy on-the-go snack.

Burger Chef advertisement (1966)

As the 20th century progressed, the hamburger became a staple of the American diet, with fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King spreading its popularity across the globe. Today, the hamburger is not just a culinary item but a cultural icon, representing innovation, convenience, and the fusion of various culinary traditions.

Burger trivia galore!

Hamburgers are one of the most beloved foods in the world. Indeed there are those who are completely obsessed with them. Obsessed may seem like a strong word, but if you don’t believe it, just check out some of this list of burger trivia.

#1: Name game

The first known juicy hamburger patty was made in Hamburg, Germany…thus the name! Although it wasn’t sandwiched by two buns yet, it was originally called the Hamburg steak.  The term “hamburger” first appeared in print in a Walla Walla, Washington, newspaper in 1889.

#2: Want to know how many burgers are eaten every year?

Sources vary on the exact amount, but according to the world’s largest hamburger chain, McDonald’s, they claim that they serve about 100 billion burgers each year worldwide!!! That’s the equivalent of about 75 burgers per second!

#3: USA — the burger kings

In America alone, people chow about 13 billion burgers annually, making them the undisputed hamburger consumers in the world.

#4: Burger nutritional data

Depending upon the restaurant, the hamburger’s nutritional facts vary:

  • McDonald’s Big Mac has about 540 calories, while their Quarter Pounder with cheese contains 740 calories.
  • The In-N-Out’s Protein Style burger has the least number of calories with 240, slightly lower than Burger King’s Veggie Burger with 410. That’s because the lettuce replaces the regular bun. But its Double Double has the calorie count of 670, slightly higher than a Big Mac’s.
  • So far, Burger King is “King of the Calories”, with its Double Whopper packing in 900 calories!! Wow! That burger could feed a family for a week!

#5: The uber-upscale burger

The most expensive burger can be found at a Las Vegas restaurant called Fleur (formerly Fleur de Lys), in Mandalay Bay. The patty itself is made of the world-renowned Kobe beef and topped with foie gras and truffles, then served with a drizzle of special sauce, french fries and more truffles on the side. The price? Only $5,000 (no, that’s not a typo)!!!! Well the meal does include 1990 Chateau Petrus wine. Yeah, wow! Does it also include a flat screen TV or a necklace from Tiffany’s as part of your “happy meal combo”? I think not!

#6: Biggest burger that you can order

According to Guinness, the largest commercially available hamburger to date was recorded in the USA (of course) in 2009. At a Southgate, Michigan joint called Mallie’s Sports Bar and Grill, they named their humongous item the “Absolutely Ridiculous Burger“. The burger weighs 84.3 kg (equivalent to 185.8 lbs) and is also included on the restaurant’s menu. I guess the person eating that burger won’t have room for fries and a shake.

Still talking about the largest burger, the king of artery-clogger emerged in 2012 when Black Bear Casino Resort near Carlton, Minnesota, cooked up and unveiled a really MONSTER burger. It weighed an unbelievable 2,014 lbs (or 914 kgs), measured 10 feet in diameter. This colossal burger had all the usual trimmings such as onions, pickles and lettuce and cheese.

#7: Honoring the burger

Americans love hamburgers so much that many people even designate their own day to pay homage to their beloved fast food dish – the National Hamburger Day. Many people hold this “event” on December 21st, some on July 28th, but they celebrate it most on the 28th of May.

Seymour, Wisconsin, claims to be the “Home of the Hamburger” and hosts the Hamburger Hall of Fame.

8: The first-ever US fast-food burger joint

White Castle is the United States’ first hamburger fast food chain, established in 1921. At that time their burgers were sold for five cents each.

#9: Burgers during a war

During the First World War, American soldiers called hamburgers “liberty sausage.” (and sauerkrauts as “liberty cabbage” because they refused to call them sauerkrauts since the word is German — the language of their enemies)

#10: You think vegans will miss their burgers?

The first veggie burger was created in London in 1982, marking the beginning of plant-based alternatives to the traditional beef patty.  Burgers fans are not limited to carnivores. In fact, the burger has a growing fan base among vegetarians and vegans. Today, many restaurants serve delicious vegan burgers that provide protein rich and low fat alternatives to their meaty counterparts.

#11: Who made the first cheeseburger?

The invention of the cheeseburger also leads to several claims, but the most well-known of all is the story of Lionel Sternberger. Sternberger is said to have created the first cheeseburger in 1926, when he was 16 years old.

#12. Variety Across Cultures

Different cultures have adapted the hamburger to fit local tastes, such as the Japanese rice burger, where the bun is made of rice.

#13.  A Favorite of Presidents

President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously served hot dogs and hamburgers to King George VI of England during his 1939 visit to the United States.

Final Thoughts

The humble hamburger is more than just a tasty meal; it’s a culinary icon that encapsulates the spirit of innovation and cultural fusion. From its early origins as a simple ground meat patty to becoming a global phenomenon, the hamburger’s journey is a testament to its universal appeal and adaptability. Whether it’s a classic beef burger, a lavish creation adorned with exotic ingredients, or a plant-based alternative, the hamburger continues to evolve, reflecting the changing tastes and trends of our times. As we bite into our next burger, let’s appreciate not just its delicious flavor but the rich history and cultural significance that it represents.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little tidbits regarding your favorite burger! Rest assured that we will come up with more interesting burger trivia in the future.

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