The hamburger, a quintessentially American dish. Like so many of our national symbols, it’s history is up for debate and reflects the multicultural roots of our nation. Some say the hamburger originated in Hamburg, Germany, while others argue German-American immigrants were the first to serve fried ground beef in a sandwich. Hannah Glasse’s 1758 edition The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy — published in England — includes a recipe for “Hamburgh sausage,” which calls for it to be served with toasted bread. However, the concept of hamburger solidified the following century across the Atlantic.
One of the first premier restaurants in the United States was New York’s Delmonico’s. Founded by Giovanni Del-Monico, a Swiss retired sea captain who presided over ships carrying cargo across the Atlantic. He and his pastry chef brother, Pietro, opened up a cafe and bakery in 1826. The two, joined by their nephew, opened Delmonico's as a restaurant in 1830. While they primarily served French food, they were not limited to one country’s cuisine. In 1836, Delmonico’s first printed menu featured a “hamburger steak,” one of the most expensive dishes at the time.
Other Americans in the 19th century claimed to invent the hamburger as well. Charlie Nagreen served a hamburger steak at Outagamie County Fair in Wisconsin in 1884. In order to make the dish easier to walk around with — which he hoped would lead to more sales — he served the steak thinner and between two slices of bread. That’s a hamburger alright. But he’s not the only one to lay claim to the invention of the burger. Another cook at another county fair in Ohio in 1891 says the same. New Haven, Connecticut’s Louis Lunch restaurant also considers itself to be the birthplace of the hamburger. Chef Louis Lassen, a Danish immigrant, served grilled ground beef between two slices of bread in 1900, an idea his family claims was original.
The history of the hamburger chain restaurant has an indisputable history. In 1921, a five stool burger restaurant opened in Wichita, Kansas. By 1964, the single restaurant grew into 100 outlets across the United States, known as the White Castle System. In the 1950s, burger pioneer Ray Crock started McDonald’s in San Bernardino, California, which inspired the founders of Burger King in Florida a few years later.
The burger represents the complicated, conflicting history of the United States, reflecting the melting pot of cultures that makes up our country. The burger also traces the transformation of American dining. What started out as a premier item at a premier restaurant became a cheap, quick, mass produced meal, intended to feed the working class anywhere, anytime.
We think our burger has a place in this history too. Ground from a secret blend of the best cuts of Wagyu beef by our friends over at Paradise Locker Meats, this burger is truly the best we have ever tasted. Stock up for the summer and enjoy this classic American tradition.