History of American Hamburgers


How did the hamburger become so popular?

There are several stories behind how the American hamburgers came into being. They are all very interesting and some are probably true in some respects. As the reader you can decide for your self which one you will believe. The first dispute is if the first hamburger was on a bun or between slices of bread. You must decide what defines a burger – does it have to be on a bun.

The Charlie Nagreen version of the History of the American Hamburger

Our first historical story takes place in Seymour, Wisconsin around the year of 1885 when a young man named Charlie Nagreen sold the first hamburger. As the history of American hamburgers go it is said that Mr. Charlie Nagreen at the age of 15 sold the first hamburger from a food stand that he had at the Outagamie County Fair. It seems he drove his ox drawn cart to the fair and sold meatballs. People found that it was not easy to eat a meatball and were not buying his product. He then decided to flatten the meatball and put it between two slices of bread. People enjoyed eating the new sandwich while strolling through the fair.

The Frank and Charles Menches version of the History of the American Hamburger

Frank and Charles Menches who are from Akron, Ohio have had a role in inventing the hamburger in 1885. They would travel around the country and show up at fairs, races, community picnics, and similar events. The brothers had made a stop in Hamburg, New York to visit a fair and sell some of their pork sausage sandwiches. They ran out of pork and needed more for their sales at the fair. It was suggested by the local butcher for them to use ground beef instead of pork. From that point, the hamburger was born and named after the little town in New York.

The Oscar Weber Bilby version of the History of the American Hamburger

The Oscar Weber Bilby family claimed the first hamburger served on a bun. In 1891, Grandfather Oscar served the family a hamburger placed on a bun, which made this the first known hamburger. When a famous writer who did research on the matter in 1995 it was determined that the first hamburger as we know it today was indeed done by Grandpa Oscar in 1891. Their story has been passed down through the generations and it seems that just about everyone in the Oklahoma area believes it and celebrates the fact that they have a part in the history of American hamburgers.

Interesting facts on the History of American Hamburger

There are many other stories where people claim that they were responsible for the invention of the hamburger. The reality is that the hamburger was invented and billions and billions (trillions?) have been made and sold in America. Here are a few other interesting facts about the Hamburger:

  • It was discovered that in 1916 a man by the name of Walter Anderson from Wichita, Kansas created hamburger buns. He made the buns small and square shaped but just big enough to put a hamburger patty on the bun. The fry cook went on to co-find the White CastleHamburger. They are known as the oldest hamburger chain in America today.
  • The first hamburgers sold for only five cents. The first hamburger was served on a bun and made with fresh ground beef. It had chopped onions on top.
  • The cartoon character “Wimpy” who was introduced in 1931 in the Popeye cartoon as a character who like to eat hamburgers. His popularity is believed to have directly helped grow the popularity of the hamburger.

America’s favorite food

Today, we all enjoy eating our hamburgers on a round shaped bun dressed with many condiments such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mustard, ketchup, relish, pickles, Jalapenos, bacon and much more.

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