|Place of origin||Uncertain (Germany or United States)|
|Creator||Multiple claims (see text)|
|Main ingredients||Ground meat, bread|
|Cookbook: Hamburger Media: Hamburger|
A hamburger (or cheeseburger when served with a slice of cheese) is a sandwich consisting of one or more cooked patties of ground meat, usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. Hamburgers may be cooked in a variety of ways, including pan-frying, barbecuing, and flame-broiling. Hamburgers are often served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion, pickles, and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, and chiles.
The term "burger" can also be applied to the meat patty on its own, especially in the UK where the term "patty" is rarely used. The term may be prefixed with the type of meat or meat substitute used, as in "turkey burger", "bison burger", or "veggie burger".
Hamburgers are sold at fast-food restaurants, diners, and specialty and high-end restaurants (where burgers may sell for several times the cost of a fast-food burger). There are many international and regional variations of the hamburger.
Etymology and terminology
The term hamburger originally derives from Hamburg, Germany's second largest city. In German, Burg means "castle", "fortified settlement" or "fortified refuge" and is a widespread component of place names. The first element of the name is perhaps from Old High German hamma, referring to a bend in a river, or Middle High German hamme, referring to an enclosed area of pastureland. Hamburger in German is the demonym of Hamburg, similar to frankfurter and wiener, names for other meat-based foods and demonyms of the cities of Frankfurt and Vienna (Wien), respectively.
The term "burger", a back-formation, is associated with many different types of sandwiches, similar to a (ground meat) hamburger, but made of different meats such as buffalo in the buffalo burger, venison, kangaroo, turkey, elk, lamb or fish like salmon in the salmon burger, but even with meatless sandwiches as is the case of the veggie burger.
There have been many claims about the origin of the hamburger. There is a reference to a "Hamburg steak" as early as 1884 in the Boston Journal.[OED, under "steak"] On July 5, 1896, the Chicago Daily Tribune made a highly specific claim regarding a "hamburger sandwich" in an article about a "Sandwich Car": "A distinguished favorite, only five cents, is Hamburger steak sandwich, the meat for which is kept ready in small patties and 'cooked while you wait' on the gasoline range." According to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, the hamburger, a ground meat patty between two slices of bread, was first created in America in 1900 by Louis Lassen, a Danish immigrant, owner of Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut. There have been rival claims by Charlie Nagreen, Frank and Charles Menches, Oscar Weber Bilby, and Fletcher Davis. White Castle traces the origin of the hamburger to Hamburg, Germany with its invention by Otto Kuase. However, it gained national recognition at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair when the New York Tribune referred to the hamburger as "the innovation of a food vendor on the pike". No conclusive argument has ever ended the dispute over invention. An article from ABC News sums up: "One problem is that there is little written history. Another issue is that the spread of the burger happened largely at the World's Fair, from tiny vendors that came and went in an instant. And it is entirely possible that more than one person came up with the idea at the same time in different parts of the country."
Claims of invention
Louis Lassen of Louis' Lunch, a small lunch wagon in New Haven, Connecticut, is said to have sold the first hamburger and steak sandwich in the U.S. in 1900. New York magazine states that "The dish actually had no name until some rowdy sailors from Hamburg named the meat on a bun after themselves years later", noting also that this claim is subject to dispute. A customer ordered a quick hot meal and Louis was out of steaks. Taking ground beef trimmings, Louis made a patty and grilled it, putting it between two slices of toast. Some critics like Josh Ozersky, a food editor for New York Magazine, claim that this sandwich was not a hamburger because the bread was toasted.
One of the earliest claims comes from Charlie Nagreen, who in 1885 sold a meatball between two slices of bread at the Seymour Fair now sometimes called the Outagamie County Fair. The Seymour Community Historical Society of Seymour, Wisconsin, credits Nagreen, now known as "Hamburger Charlie", with the invention. Nagreen was fifteen when he was reportedly selling pork sandwiches at the 1885 Seymour Fair, made so customers could eat while walking. The Historical Society explains that Nagreen named the hamburger after the Hamburg steak with which local German immigrants were familiar.
Oscar Weber Bilby
The family of Oscar Weber Bilby claim the first-known hamburger on a bun was served on July 4, 1891 on Grandpa Oscar's farm. The bun was a yeast bun. In 1995, Governor Frank Keating proclaimed that the first true hamburger on a bun was created and consumed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1891, calling Tulsa, "The Real Birthplace of the Hamburger."
Frank and Charles Menches
Frank and Charles Menches claim to have sold a ground beef sandwich at the Erie County Fair in 1885 in Hamburg, New York. During the fair, they ran out of pork sausage for their sandwiches and substituted beef. Kunzog, who spoke to Frank Menches, says they exhausted their supply of sausage, so purchased chopped up beef from a butcher, Andrew Klein. Historian Joseph Streamer wrote that the meat was from Stein's market not Klein's, despite Stein's having sold the market in 1874. The story notes that the name of the hamburger comes from Hamburg, New York not Hamburg Germany. Frank Menches's obituary in The New York Times states that these events took place at the 1892 Summit County Fair in Akron, Ohio.
Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas claimed to have invented the hamburger. According to oral histories, in the 1880s he opened a lunch counter in Athens and served a 'burger' of fried ground beef patties with mustard and Bermuda onion between two slices of bread, with a pickle on the side. The story is that in 1904, Davis and his wife Ciddy ran a sandwich stand at the St. Louis World's Fair. Historian Frank X. Tolbert, noted that Athens resident Clint Murchison said his grandfather dated the hamburger to the 1880s with 'Old Dave' a.k.a. Fletcher Davis. A photo of "Old Dave's Hamburger Stand" from 1904 was sent to Tolbert as evidence of the claim. Also the New York Tribune, without giving names, attributed the innovation of the hamburger to the stand on the pike.
Other hamburger-steak claims
Various non-specific claims of invention relate to the term "hamburger steak" without mention of its being a sandwich. The first printed American menu which listed hamburger is said to be an 1834 menu from Delmonico's in New York. However, the printer of the original menu was not in business in 1834. In 1889, a menu from Walla Walla Union in Washington offered hamburger steak as a menu item.
Between 1871 and 1884, "Hamburg Beefsteak" was on the "Breakfast and Supper Menu" of the Clipper Restaurant at 311/313 Pacific Street in San Fernando, California. It cost 10 cents—the same price as mutton chops, pig's feet in batter, and stewed veal. It was not, however, on the dinner menu. Only "Pig's Head," "Calf Tongue," and "Stewed Kidneys" were listed. Another claim ties the hamburger to Summit County, New York or Ohio. Summit County, Ohio exists, but Summit County, New York does not.
Early major vendors
- 1921: White Castle, Wichita, Kansas. Due to widely anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during World War I, an alternative name for hamburgers was Salisbury steak. Following the war, hamburgers became unpopular until the White Castle restaurant chain marketed and sold large numbers of small 2.5-inch square hamburgers, known as sliders. They started to punch five holes in each patty, which help them cook evenly and eliminate the need to flip the burger. In 1995 White Castle began selling frozen hamburgers in convenience stores and vending machines.
- 1923: Kewpee Hamburgers, or Kewpee Hotels, Flint, Michigan. Kewpee was the second hamburger chain and peaked at 400 locations before World War II. Many of these were licensed but not strictly franchised. Many closed during WWII. Between 1955 and 1967, another wave closed or caused changes of name. In 1967 the Kewpee licensor moved the company to a franchise system. Currently only five locations exist.
- 1926: White Tower Hamburgers
- 1927: Little Tavern
- 1931: Toddle House
- 1930s: White Castle (II; run by Henry Cassada)
- 1931: Krystal (restaurant)
- 1936: Big Boy
- 1940: McDonald's restaurant, San Bernardino, California, was opened by Richard and Maurice McDonald. Their introduction of the "Speedee Service System" in 1948 established the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. The McDonald brothers began franchising in 1953. In 1961, Ray Kroc (the supplier of their multi-mixer milkshake machines) purchased the company from the brothers for $2.7 million and a 1.9% royalty.
Hamburgers are usually a feature of fast food restaurants. The hamburgers served in major fast food establishments are usually mass-produced in factories and frozen for delivery to the site. These hamburgers are thin and of uniform thickness, differing from the traditional American hamburger prepared in homes and conventional restaurants, which is thicker and prepared by hand from ground beef. Most American hamburgers are round, but some fast-food chains, such as Wendy's, sell square-cut hamburgers. Hamburgers in fast food restaurants are usually grilled on a flat-top, but some firms, such as Burger King, use a gas flame grilling process. At conventional American restaurants, hamburgers may be ordered "rare", but normally are served medium-well or well-done for food safety reasons. Fast food restaurants do not usually offer this option.
The McDonald's fast-food chain sells the Big Mac, one of the world's top selling hamburgers, with an estimated 550 million sold annually in the United States. Other major fast-food chains, including Burger King (also known as Hungry Jack's in Australia), A&W, Culver's, Whataburger, Carl's Jr./Hardee's chain, Wendy's (known for their square patties), Jack in the Box, Cook Out, Harvey's, Shake Shack, In-N-Out Burger, Five Guys, Fatburger, Vera's, Burgerville, Back Yard Burgers, Lick's Homeburger, Roy Rogers, Smashburger, and Sonic also rely heavily on hamburger sales. Fuddruckers and Red Robin are hamburger chains that specialize in the mid-tier "restaurant-style" variety of hamburgers.
Some North American establishments offer a unique take on the hamburger beyond what is offered in fast food restaurants, using upscale ingredients such as sirloin or other steak along with a variety of different cheeses, toppings, and sauces. One example is the Bobby's Burger Palace chain founded by well-known chef and Food Network star Bobby Flay.
Hamburgers are often served as a fast dinner, picnic or party food and are usually cooked outdoors on barbecue grills.
A high-quality hamburger patty is made entirely of ground (minced) beef and seasonings; these may be described as "all-beef hamburger" or "all-beef patties" to distinguish them from inexpensive hamburgers made with cost-savers like added flour, textured vegetable protein, ammonia treated defatted beef trimmings (which the company Beef Products Inc, calls "lean finely textured beef"), advanced meat recovery, or other fillers. In the 1930s ground liver was sometimes added. Some cooks prepare their patties with binders like eggs or breadcrumbs. Seasonings may include salt and pepper and others like as parsley, onions, soy sauce, Thousand Island dressing, onion soup mix, or Worcestershire sauce. Many name brand seasoned salt products are also used.
Raw hamburger may contain harmful bacteria that can produce food-borne illness such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, due to the occasional initial improper preparation of the meat, so caution is needed during handling and cooking. Because of the potential for food-borne illness, the USDA recommends hamburgers be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 °F (71 °C). If cooked to this temperature, they are considered well-done.
Burgers can also be made with patties made from ingredients other than beef. For example, a turkey burger uses ground turkey meat, a chicken burger uses ground chicken meat. A buffalo burger uses ground meat from a bison, and an ostrich burger is made from ground seasoned ostrich meat. A deer burger uses ground venison from deer.
A veggie burger, garden burger, or tofu burger uses a meat analogue, a meat substitute such as tofu, TVP, seitan (wheat gluten), quorn, beans, grains or an assortment of vegetables, ground up and mashed into patties.
United States and Canada
In the United States and Canada, burgers may be classified as two main types: fast food hamburgers and individually prepared burgers made in homes and restaurants. The latter are often prepared with a variety of toppings, including lettuce, tomato, onion, and often sliced pickles (or pickle relish). French fries often accompany the burger. Cheese (usually processed cheese slices but often Cheddar, Swiss, pepper jack, or blue), either melted directly on the meat patty or crumbled on top, is generally an option.
Other toppings include bacon, avocado or guacamole, sliced sautéed mushrooms, cheese sauce and/or chili (usually without beans), fried egg, scrambled egg, feta cheese, blue cheese, salsa, pineapple, jalapeños and other kinds of chili peppers, anchovies, slices of ham or bologna, pastrami or teriyaki-seasoned beef, tartar sauce, french fries, onion rings or potato chips.
- Standard toppings on hamburgers may depend upon location, particularly at restaurants that are not national or regional franchises.
- Waffle House claims on its menus and website to offer many different ways of serving a hamburger.
- Pastrami burgers may be served in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- A patty melt consists of a patty, sautéed onions and cheese between two slices of rye bread. The sandwich is then buttered and fried.
- A slider is a very small square hamburger patty sprinkled with diced onions and served on an equally small bun. According to the earliest citations, the name originated aboard U.S. Navy ships, due to the manner in which greasy burgers slid across the galley grill as the ship pitched and rolled. Other versions claim the term "slider" originated from the hamburgers served by flight line galleys at military airfields, which were so greasy they slid right through you; or because their small size allows them to "slide" right down your throat in one or two bites.
- In Alberta, Canada a "kubie burger" is a hamburger made with a pressed Ukrainian sausage (kubasa).
- In Minnesota, a "Juicy Lucy" (also spelled "Jucy Lucy"), is a hamburger having cheese inside the meat patty rather than on top. A piece of cheese is surrounded by raw meat and cooked until it melts, resulting in a molten core of cheese within the patty. This scalding hot cheese tends to gush out at the first bite, so servers frequently instruct customers to let the sandwich cool for a few minutes before consumption.
- A low carb burger is a hamburger served without a bun and replaced with large slices of lettuce, with mayonnaise and/or mustard being the sauces primarily used.
- A ramen burger, invented by Keizo Shimamoto, is a hamburger patty sandwiched between two discs of compressed ramen noodles in lieu of a traditional bun.
In Mexico, burgers (called hamburguesas) are served with ham and slices of American cheese fried on top of the meat patty. The toppings include avocado, jalapeño slices, shredded lettuce, onion and tomato. The bun has mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. In certain parts are served with bacon, which can be fried or grilled along with the meat patty. A slice of pineapple is also a usual option, and the variation is known as a "Hawaiian hamburger".
Some restaurants' burgers also have barbecue sauce, and others also replace the ground patty with sirloin, Al pastor meat, barbacoa or a fried chicken breast. Many burger chains from the United States can be found all over Mexico, including Carl's Jr., Sonic, as well as global chains such as McDonald's and Burger King.
United Kingdom and Ireland
Hamburgers in the UK and Ireland are very similar to those in the US, and the High Street is dominated by the same big two chains as in the U.S. — McDonald's and Burger King. The menus offered to both countries are virtually identical, although portion sizes tend to be smaller in the UK. In Ireland the food outlet Supermacs is widespread throughout the country serving burgers as part of its menu. In Ireland, Abrakebabra (started out selling kebabs) and Eddie Rocket's are also major chains.
An original and indigenous rival to the big two U.S. giants was the quintessentially British fast-food chain Wimpy, originally known as Wimpy Bar (opened 1954 at the Lyon's Corner House in Coventry Street London), which served its hamburgers on a plate with British-style chips, accompanied by cutlery and delivered to the customer's table. In the late 1970s, to compete with McDonald's, Wimpy began to open American-style counter-service restaurants and the brand disappeared from many UK high streets when those restaurants were re-branded as Burger Kings between 1989 and 1990 by the then-owner of both brands, Grand Metropolitan. A management buyout in 1990 split the brands again and now Wimpy table-service restaurants can still be found in many town centres whilst new counter-service Wimpys are now often found at motorway service stations.
Hamburgers are also available from mobile kiosks, particularly at outdoor events such as football matches. Burgers from this type of outlet are usually served without any form of salad — only fried onions and a choice of tomato ketchup, mustard or brown sauce.
Chip shops, particularly in the West Midlands, North-East, Scotland and Ireland, serve battered hamburgers called batter burgers. This is where the burger patty, by itself, is deep-fat-fried in batter and is usually served with chips.
Hamburgers and veggie burgers served with chips and salad, are standard pub grub menu items. Many pubs specialize in "gourmet" burgers. These are usually high quality minced steak patties, topped with items such as blue cheese, brie, avocado et cetera. Some British pubs serve burger patties made from more exotic meats including venison burgers (sometimes nicknamed Bambi Burgers), bison burgers, ostrich burgers and in some Australian themed pubs even kangaroo burgers can be purchased. These burgers are served in a similar way to the traditional hamburger but are sometimes served with a different sauce including redcurrant sauce, mint sauce and plum sauce.
In the early 21st century "premium" hamburger chain and independent restaurants have arisen, selling burgers produced from meat stated to be of high quality and often organic, usually served to eat on the premises rather than to take away. Chains include Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Ultimate Burger, Hamburger Union and Byron Hamburgers in London. Independent restaurants such as Meatmarket and Dirty Burger developed a style of rich, juicy burger in 2012 which is known as a dirty burger or third-wave burger.
In the UK, as in North America and Japan, the term "burger" can refer simply to the patty, be it beef, some other kind of meat, or vegetarian.
Australia and New Zealand
Fast food franchises sell American style fast food hamburgers in Australia and New Zealand. The traditional Australasian hamburgers are usually bought from fish and chip shops or milk bars. The hamburger meat is almost always ground beef, or "mince" as it is more commonly referred to in Australia and New Zealand. They commonly include tomato, lettuce, grilled onion and meat as minimum, and can optionally include cheese, beetroot, pineapple, a fried egg and bacon. If all these optional ingredients are included it is known in Australia as "burger with the lot".
The only variance between the two countries' hamburgers is that New Zealand's equivalent to the "The Lot" often contains a steak (beef) as well. The condiments regularly used are barbecue sauce and tomato sauce. The McDonald's "McOz" Burger is partway between American and Australian style burgers, having beetroot and tomato in an otherwise typical American burger; however, it is no longer a part of the menu. Likewise, McDonald's in New Zealand created a Kiwiburger, similar to a Quarter Pounder, but features salad, beetroot and a fried egg. The Hungry Jack's (Burger King) "Aussie Burger" has tomato, lettuce, onion, cheese, bacon, beetroot, egg, ketchup and a meat patty.
In Japan, hamburgers can be served in a bun, called hanbāgā (ハンバーガー), or just the patties served without a bun, known as hanbāgu (ハンバーグ) or "hamburg", short for "hamburg steak".
Hamburg steaks (served without buns) are similar to what are known as Salisbury steaks in the U.S. They are made from minced beef, pork or a blend of the two mixed with minced onions, egg, breadcrumbs and spices. They are served with brown sauce (or demi-glace in restaurants) with vegetable or salad sides, or occasionally in Japanese curries. Hamburgers may be served in casual, western style suburban restaurant chains known in Japan as "family restaurants".
Hamburgers in buns, on the other hand, are predominantly the domain of fast food chains such as American chains known as McDonald's and Wendy's. Japan has home grown hamburger chain restaurants such as MOS Burger, First Kitchen and Freshness Burger. Local varieties of burgers served in Japan include teriyaki burgers, katsu burgers (containing tonkatsu) and burgers containing shrimp korokke. Some of the more unusual examples include the rice burger, where the bun is made of rice, and the luxury 1000-yen (US$10) "Takumi Burger" (meaning "artisan taste"), featuring avocados, freshly grated wasabi, and other rare seasonal ingredients. In terms of the actual patty, there are burgers made with Kobe beef, butchered from cows that are fed with beer and massaged daily. McDonald's Japan also recently launched a McPork burger, made with U.S. pork. McDonald's has been gradually losing market share in Japan to these local hamburger chains, due in part to the preference of Japanese diners for fresh ingredients and more refined, "upscale" hamburger offerings. Burger King once retreated from Japan, but re-entered the market in Summer 2007 in cooperation with the Korean owned Japanese fast-food chain Lotteria.
Rice burgers, mentioned above, are also available in several East Asian countries such as Taiwan and South Korea. Lotteria is a big hamburger franchise in Japan owned by the South Korean Lotte group, with outlets also in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. In addition to selling beef hamburgers, they also have hamburgers made from squid, pork, tofu, and shrimp. Variations available in South Korea include Bulgogi burgers and Kimchi burgers.
In the Philippines, a wide range of major U.S. fast-food franchises are well represented, together with local imitators, often amended to the local palate. The chain McDonald's (locally nicknamed "McDo") have a range of burger and chicken dishes often accompanied by plain steamed rice and/or French fries. The Philippines boasts its own burger-chain called Jollibee, which offers burger meals and chicken, including a signature burger called "Champ". Jollibee now has a number of outlets in the United States, the Middle East and East Asia.
In India, burgers are usually made from chicken or vegetable patties due to cultural beliefs against eating beef (which stem from Hindu religious practice) and pork (which stems from Islamic religious practice). Because of this, the majority of fast food chains and restaurants in India do not serve beef. McDonald's in India, for instance, does not serve beef, offering the "Maharaja Mac" instead of the Big Mac, substituting the beef patties with chicken. Another version of the Indian vegetarian burger is the Wada Pav consisting deep-fried potato patty dipped in gramflour batter. It is usually served with mint chutney and fried green chili.
In Pakistan, apart from American fast food chains, burgers can be found in stalls near shopping areas, the best known being the "shami burger". This is made from "shami kebab", made by mixing lentil and minced lamb. Onions, scrambled egg and ketchup are the most may be toppings.
In Malaysia there are 300 McDonald's restaurants. The menu in Malaysia also includes eggs and fried chicken on top of the regular burgers. Burgers are also easily found at nearby mobile kiosks, especially Ramly Burger.
In Mongolia, a recent fast food craze due to the sudden influx of foreign influence has led to the prominence of the hamburger. Specialized fast food restaurants serving to Mongolian tastes have sprung up and seen great success.
In Turkey, in addition to the internationally familiar offerings, numerous localized variants of the hamburger may be found, such as the Islak Burger (lit. "Wet-Burger"), which a beef slider doused in seasoned tomato sauce and steamed inside a special glass chamber, and has its origins in the Turkish fast food retailer Kizilkayalar. Other variations include lamb-burgers and offal-burgers, which are offered by local fast food businesses and global chains alike, such as McDonald's and Burger King. Most burger shops have also adopted a pizzaria-like approach when it comes to home delivery, and almost all major fast food chains deliver.
Throughout Belgium and in some eateries in the Netherlands, a Bicky Burger is sold that combines pork, chicken, and horse meat. The hamburger, usually fried, is served between a bun, sprinkled with sesame seeds. It often comes with a specific Bickysaus (Bicky dressing) made with mayonnaise, mustard, cabbage, and onion.
- In May 2012, Serendipity 3 was recognized as the Guinness World Record holder for serving the world's most expensive hamburger, the $295 Le Burger Extravagant.
- At $499, the world's largest hamburger commercially available tips the scales at 185.8 pounds (84.3 kg) and is on the menu at Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar in Southgate, Michigan. It is called the "Absolutely Ridiculous Burger", which takes about 12 hours to prepare. It was cooked and adjudicated on May 30, 2009.
- A $777 Kobe beef and Maine lobster burger, topped with caramelized onion, Brie cheese and prosciutto, was reported available at Le Burger Brasserie, inside the Paris Las Vegas casino.
- New York chef Daniel Boulud created an intricate dish composed of layers of ground sirloin, foie gras, and wine-braised short ribs, assembled to look exactly like a fast-food burger. It is available with truffles in season.
- On September 2, 2012, the Black Bear Casino Resort near Carlton, Minnesota made the world-record bacon cheeseburger that weighed 2,014 pounds (914 kg). Guinness World Records verified the record for biggest burger.
- In Las Vegas, Nevada at the Heart Attack Grill there is a Quadruple Bypass Burger. The burger weighs two pounds and the name is derived from the fact that the burger is unhealthy. The restaurant is known for being honest about the fact that their food is unhealthy. They allow people that weigh over 350 pounds (160 kg) to eat for free.
- On August 5, 2013, the first hamburger made from lab grown meat grown from cow stem cells was eaten in London.
- "$100 hamburger" ("hundred-dollar hamburger") is aviation slang for a general aviation pilot needing an excuse to fly. A $100 hamburger trip typically involves flying a short distance (less than two hours), eating at an airport restaurant, and flying home.
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