The History Behind Everyone’s BBQ Favorite – The Hamburger

This time of year hamburgers are the ultimate food, pretty much the only food one would need to have a successful summer. There is nothing like biting into a hot, juicy burger straight off the sizzling grill, sandwiched between a soft toasted bun and crisp, crunchy veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles.

It’s no secret it’s America’s favorite obsession, but in a land where so much of our culture comes from a mixture of other cultures, who can take credit for this masterpiece?

Well, if you go all the way back, like to the 1200’s back, you can trace ground meat stories to the conquering Mongolian armies of Genghis Khan (1167-1227). When the Mongolian troops invaded Russia, the Russians adopted this minced meat into their diets calling it Steak tartare (tartare was their word for Mongolians).

From there, the idea of minced or tenderized beef patties spread as a delicacy throughout European countries. The idea began to spread as large port cities increased in size and trading. However, at this point, there was still no toasty bun or fresh veggies to pair with the meat patties.

In the late 18th century Hamburg Germany became known for its Hamburg beef which was expensive and needed to be consumed right away.

As German’s migrated to America, they began to open restaurants and serve Hamburg steaks. Although what was served was not real Hamburg beef, it was a mixture of grilled ground beef, onions, and eggs. The dish became wildly popular and was typically a higher price than other items on the menu. Sometimes more than double!

As industrial work continued, especially nighttime work, the need for something portable became apparent. It isn’t clear exactly when or how it started, but the idea of placing the Hamburg steak between two pieces of bread made the meal more portable. Thus the hamburger was born!

In 1921, White Castle created the first hamburger stand which eased people’s fears about potentially bad meat after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published. McDonald’s drive-in revolutionized the popularity of the burger in 1941 and the fast food industry.

Hamburgers are now on almost every menu, from the dollar menu to a million dollar menu, they triumph as America’s favorite food! The idea is even catching on all over the world as different countries develop their own twist on the hamburger.