World Facts

Why Is It Called a Hamburger?

Why is it called a hamburger when it's beef?

A hamburger is a delicacy to most Americans. Unlike the name, a hamburger is not made of ham, but beef. It is prepared by placing ground beef and toppings of your choice, in between buns. The hamburger can also be made of different patties, like salmon, turkey, cheese, or even without meat, like the veggie burger.It is normally sold at fast food outlets or high-end hotels as a main course. To best enjoy a hamburger, it is served hot.

But Why the Name Hamburger?

The name hamburger is speculated to have its origin from Hamburg, Germany's second largest city. In 1847 sailors transitioning between Germany and America would mostly eat a "hamburg steak" which was made of fried beef steak. Later, when Germans moved to America, the carried their delicacy with them.

Another theory is that the hamburger was named after the town of Hamburger in the state of New York, instead of the city of Hamburg in Germany.

Who Is the Genius Behind the Hamburger?

No one truly knows who first invented the hamburger because there are lots of claims. According to the ABC, several people might have come up with the same idea at the same time, but from different places.

Louis Lassen of New Haven, Connecticut is recognized by the Library of Congress as the Inventor of a hamburger. It is claimed that a customer who wanted food in a hurry at her restaurant Louis' Lunch, birthed the idea. She quickly took ground beef, made a patty, grilled it, and served it between two pieces of bread.

Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio were travel vendors. They went to fairs, picnics, and events to sell their pork sandwiches. They are marked as hamburger inventors after, at a fair in New York, they ran out of pork. Not wanting to slaughter any more pigs, their butcher suggested they use ground beef, and the idea was born.

Otto Kause from Hamburg, Germany, is claimed to have also been the inventor. According to the White Castle chains, Otto made a hamburger in 1891 by making ground beef and topping it up with eggs!

Charles Nagreen (Hamburger Charlie), at 15, was a vendor at the Seymour fair. He had a brilliant idea after he saw the multitude viewing exhibitions, and decided to make some portable lunch. He took meatballs he was selling, crushed them and placed them between bread. His idea worked really well and he frequented the fair until his death.

Oscar Welber Bilby from Tulsa, Ohio is claimed to have been the first to make a hamburger in a bun, on July 4, 1891. His story is recounted by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It is said that Grandpa Oscar made a metal grill for himself, and on July 4, 1891, he took some ground Angus meat and made many hamburgers, using his wife, Fanny's buns, and distributed to neighbors and friends. The hamburgers are said to have been delicious that Oscar made them annually every July 4th.

Fletcher Davis from Athens, Texas, is claimed to have sold hamburgers at the world's fair in St Louis. In a research done by Tolbert for NY Times, Clint Murchison claims to remember his grandfather talk of eating hamburgers at a lunch stand owned by "old Dave" in the 80s. He sent Tolbert a photo of the lunch stand that is claimed to have been Fletcher Davis' a.k.a "old Dave". According to his family, Fletcher was a potter, but when work was down, he opened a lunch stand and flipped burgers with his wife Ciddy. After the St Louis world fair, Fletcher returned home and continued pottery.

Hamburger Milestones

The hamburger, since its invention, has been able to bag itself many accolades. Despite being Mc Donald's best sale, the hamburger is featured in a lot of events, parties and even contests.

On September 2, 2012, the Black Bear Casino bagged itself a Guinness World Record for the biggest burger, which weighed 2,014 pounds.

The Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada, know for its unhealthy foods, prepares an unhealthy burger known as the Bypass Burger. The hotel's management lets people weighing over 350 pounds eat for free.

August 5, 2013, marked the first hamburger made of lab-grown cow stem cells by Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Sergey Bring, co-founder of Google also supported the project.

More in World Facts