A Major Beef! Who Invented the Hamburger?

What’s better than sinking your teeth into a big juicy hamburger fresh off the grill? Some like to pile them high with all the toppings they can think of and others like them plain jane. But the truth is almost everyone loves a hamburger.

Nothing is more traditional than a good old burger, but today there are many spin-offs. It's popular to find hamburgers stuffed with all sorts of goodies, or even different types of patties like chicken, turkey or even veggie patties. With all those choices, have you ever stopped to think who might have been behind this American favorite?

Many try to claim the fame for inventing the hamburger. The question is, whose story is the truth? Here are some of the contender's stories:
  • 1885: Charlie Nagreen is said to have served a meatball between two pieces of bread. He accidentally invented the hamburger when he ran out of meatballs and took the leftover ground beef, fried it into a patty, and served it in between two slices of bread.
  • 1885: Frank and Charles Menches invented the hamburger in Hamburg, New York. The story says they ran out of pork for their pork sandwiches and switched to ground beef patties at the county fair.
  • 1880’s: Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas opens the first hamburger stand. There is documented proof of this stand, but the photo is dated 1905.
  • 1891: Otto Kuase was said to have invented the hamburger with an invention that included a fried egg, which was eventually omitted.
  • 1900: Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch sold the first hamburger in the United States at the county fair in Connecticut.
As you can see, there are MANY claims about the real inventor of the hamburger and the truth is we may never know who was first. Many of these accounts are from all over the US, and it’s possible that many people thought of it at the same time in different places.

It is relatively well accepted that as more German immigrants came to the US, the more popular the hamburg steak became (which was ground beef fried in a patty or what we call today a hamburger patty). As people started working farther and farther away from home, the need for a fast lunch they could eat with their hands.

Street vendors sought to fill this need by stuffing all kinds of meat between two pieces of bread creating the sandwich. There were thousands of street vendors across the United States, which could be why there are many claims to the invention of the hamburger. It is actually, entirely possible that more than one person invented it!

So, you can thank the industrial period of the 1920’s next time you take a big juicy bite of a hamburger.

Andy Anderson ! - Aug 9, 2018
I just stumbled on this thread... thanks for a funny read. It made my day.
Chuck Pool - Jun 2, 2018
Mr. Starkey:
Oh, is that so?
Barry W. Starkey - May 30, 2018
To Mr. Pat Nugent and Mr. Chuck Pool ;

I am NOT a sanctimonious wind bag as you so put it !!! What I have stated is all from Facts and
the TRUTH !! I have lived in Texas since 1977 and learned first hand from the fine Cooks that we
had in the Fire Service that I worked along side of as a Firefighter, both City and Federal Gov DOD
& from having cooked many a meal myself to feed the Firefighters that I worked along side of at the Killeen Fire Dept. Killeen, Tx ,; the Belton Fire Dept., Belton, Tx and at the Fort Hood Fire Dept. Fort Hood, Tx ! They , the Firefighter Cooks all learned from their Moms, Grandmothers and Aunts how to cook and I myself learned from my G'ma , when I was growing up from the age of 10 years, and all of the great Cooks in the Fire Service !!! So I know what I'm talking about, I'm just not blowing Hot Air as YOU all think !!!
Pat Nugent - May 30, 2018
Don't know about you but I'm bored with this sanctimonious wind bag, Chuck. Let Barry tell some other folks how wrong they are. I'm calling off this jam and passing the helmet.
Barry W. Starkey - May 30, 2018
To Mr. Chuck Pool ;
Chuckwagon & Cowboy Chef Kent Rollins out of OK does Chicken Fried Steak the same way that it is
done in Texas and has been since the 1920's ! Done with Sirloin Steak or Top Round Steak , Tenderized, NOT Ground Up in a Meat Grinder like your G'ma did !!! Authentic Chicken Fried Steak ,
Oklahoma & Texas Style is done with Whole Steaks that have been tenderized and NOT , I repeat ,
NOT Ground Up Sirloin !!! Watch the video from the link that is posted and learn the Correct and Proper way to make Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy ! What your G'ma was doing is the same thing that the Cooks in Hamburg , Germany did that was originally called Hamburg Steak topped with a brown
mushroom gravy ! Same as Salisbury Steak ! But that is NOT Chicken Fried Steak ! No Way Jose !!
Click on the link below and Learn How Authentic ' Texas & Oklahoma '' Style CFS is done !!!

Chuck Pool - May 30, 2018
Mr. Starkey - in my many years of living and eating, I have also listened. My mother & grandmothers shared their philosophies of life as well as recipes with me.

My grandmother - who started cooking in the early 1900's (like 1904) always made country fried steak with a ground steak. Okay, so the woman who helped run a boarding house in her teens & cooked thousands of meals is wrong - according to you. I'm sure she is turning in her grave as a result. Your knowledge of southern cooking is "ahem" Texas? You and all the Yankees down there can swear to the authenticity of the current cooking all you want. When my Southern family's cooking tradition and terminology has been running strong for over 100 years, we'll do the southern thing and just say - "Oh, is that so?"

To make a hamburger with a combination of meats, you just run the chunks of chicken and pork through a hand-grinder (which my grandmother did before electricity reached her kitchen) along with the chunks of beef. Of course, you know that NO ONE ever does that!!! Except my grandmother did, and she also spiced her own hamburger patties with bell pepper, onion, garlic, even sweet peppers. When we quit raising chickens and hogs, we started buying our ground beef instead of using her KitchenAid meat grinder attachment. So those hamburgers I ate over the past 50 years, my grandfather ate for longer are not actually hamburgers because of the meat source and the terminology? "Oh, is that so!"

Lastly, Mr. Starkey - if google is your friend, then continue doing your research. You may find so many divergent opinions that you might "loosen up, Francis" as Warren Oates (Sgt. Hulka) told another actor Conrad Dunn (Psycho) in the movie Stripes. Google it.

Further - this is a recipe and cooking website, not a pissing contest. You can make all the claims you want. And in your mind you can be as right as rain. Personally, I don't care. I'll still cook my country fried steak with ground sirloin (ie, ground beef), in a cast iron skillet with less than an inch of oil, and enjoy it just fine without the milk gravy that you call "country" milk gravy. And you don't need to do so many buttermilk & egg washes - but if you are inviting the girls over and must do it to the "T", then go ahead. It was a nice transcription of a recipe - that is authentic country fried steak - "oh, is that so!"

You might google how many non-chain restaurants have "secret" hamburger "burger" recipes that actually break your rules....then again, if you could find out that their definitions and yours aren't the same, the recipes wouldn't be secret, would they. Then you could say "Oh, is that so!"
Barry W. Starkey - May 30, 2018
I don't know what other people like on their BURGERS, because I don't bother asking them
I have eaten '' Ham & Fried Egg " Sandwiches ,... Ham & Swiss Cheese Sandwiches , ... and quite a
few Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches , But Never Hamburgers !!!!
I eat good old American Cheese Burgers with Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pickles and Onions sometime,
if they are grilled with the Burger patty , not fresh sliced ! Now if one takes a slice of good old
American Country Ham and adds it to the Top of a grilled Burger Patty , Now that would be a
Hamburger !!!!
Pat Nugent - May 30, 2018
Barry, the article says what do you like on your hamburger! Guess these people are all wrong also?
Barry W. Starkey - May 30, 2018
NO , we have a lot of BURGER Lovers here and lots of fine places to get them !
And they ALL call them BURGERS, ...... NOT Hamburgers ... on their Menu Boards !!!
And I had never heard of Ray Kroc's empire ! Is he the one that created McDonald's with over 2 Billion BURGERS served ? I personally don't like the Big Mac, but I do like the Quarter Pounder Cheeseburger !!! I was stationed at Fort Hood in the 142nd Signal Bn , 2nd Armored Division under General George S Patton from Feb 1977 to my ETS in June 1978 . I was assigned here after my 4 year Tour of Assignment in the Republic de Panama Canal Zone, STRATCOM -USACC was over .
I served in the U.S. Army from 4-70 to 6-78, Vietnam Veteran, and I wouldn't know about what the Officer's Club at Fort Hood served because I was not an Officer, just an NCOIC , Sgt. E5 Squad Leader in Co A , 142 Sig Bn .
Pat Nugent - May 30, 2018
Bet there are a lot of hamburger lovers there also? Were you impressed with Ray Kroc's hamburger empire? Like granddaddy used to say; 'one man's sh_t is another man's ice cream. I did a tour at Ft Hood during my 23 yrs in the service. Always thought it was a good place. Officer's Club had great hamburgers. ha ha
Barry W. Starkey - May 30, 2018
To Pat Nugent ;
I wouldn't know as I don't Live in Athens , Tx ! Never did !
I live in the Killeen-Fort Hood Centroplex area where 250,000
other BURGER Lovers Live, Work , Retire and enjoy their Burgers
regardless of how they are cooked ! Have a Nice Day !
Pat Nugent - May 30, 2018
Barry, Google is your friend. Ray sold more hamburgers than anyone, ever. Not sure you are aware, there is life outside of Athens, Tx. Why are you so obsessed with this? Thanks for playing.
Barry W. Starkey - May 29, 2018
@ Pat Nugent ;
Who in the Sam Hill is Ray Kroc ??? And YES , Most Burger Restaurants or joints DON'T
call them Hamburgers any more, Just Burgers !!!
Pat Nugent - May 29, 2018
So Barry, nobody but nobody calls it a hamburger in Texas? Ray Kroc was all wrong when he built all those stores and purchased those signs out front?
Barry W. Starkey - May 29, 2018
To Mr. Chuck Pool ,
In spite of what YOU Say or tThink , there is NO Ham or Pork products
of any kind in GROUND BEEF Patties of which BURGERS are made from !!!
You know, you're elevator does not go to the Top floor, you're a few sandwiches
short of a full Picnic basket! And you're Level is off a few degrees !!!
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