50 Billion Are Sold Annually in America
Although the humble beef-patty-on-a-bun is technically not much more than 100 years old, it's part of a far greater history, linking American businessmen, World War II soldiers, German refugees, medieval traders, and Neolithic farmers. About 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia the domestication of cattle began the love affair of eating beef delicacies.
Hamburger at first became “Hamburg-style” chopped steak leaning on the reputation of high-quality beef exported from Hamburg Germany and the arrival of German immigrants. In the mid-19th century, America traded their physicians’ prescriptions for raw ground beef to resolve digestive issues, for cooked beef patties to accomplice the same results.
The hamburger seems to have made its jump from plate to bun in the last decades of the 19th century, though the site of this event is highly contested. Lunch wagons, fair stands and roadside restaurants in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Ohio, New York, and Texas have all been vocal about their role as possible sites of the hamburger’s birth. Whatever its beginnings, the burger-on-a-bun found its first wide audience at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, which also introduced millions of Americans to new foods ranging from waffle ice cream cones and cotton candy to peanut butter and iced tea.
The hamburger might have remained on the margins of American appetites if not for the vision of Edgar “Billy” Ingram and Walter Anderson, who opened their first White Castle restaurant in Kansas in 1921. Their system, which included on-premises meat grinding, worked well, and was the inspiration for other national hamburger chains founded in the boom years after World War II: McDonald’s and In-N-Out Burger (both founded in 1948), Burger King (1954) and Wendy’s (1969).
The public has come a long way from those early burgers with a new healthier mindset to muddy our choices. You may ask, “do plant-based burgers come close to tasting like the real thing?” If you’re a beef burger fan that’s looking to make a healthier switch to meatless burgers (at least some of the time), there are many brands available with soy and other veggie ingredients. Do some taste testing to replicate the experience of a beef burger. Does this alternative look like a real burger, sears up like a real burger, has the texture of a real burger and tastes a lot like…yep, a real burger? Your new find may be just the thing to make a serious burger fan willing to reach for seconds.
As the bar-b-ques heat up this summer, enjoy whatever kind of burger is at the top of your gotta have list!