The intention of this brief history of the hamburger is to summarise where it came from.
The hamburger, in some form or another has appeared throughout history since the early 4th century. Travelling from Europe across the Atlantic. The hamburger rose to fame in the USA emerging as an icon in the culinary world.
An ancient collection of recipes accredit the first minced meat preparation to the 4th century. Others believe it was the Mongols that spread the tradition in the 13th century. That is to say, the warriors would stash raw meat under their saddles to soften it and cook it. It spread across Europe, with Moscow adopting a raw version. Known today as steak tartare – by the end of the century.
Russians brought the recipe to the Germans in the 17th century, arriving via the port of Hamburg. By 1747, the Hamburg sausage appeared for the first time in a cookbook, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. In the early 1800s the Hamburg steak was included in the Oxford English dictionary.
The Hamburg steak was brought to the US by German immigrants fleeing political revolutions.
The hamburger history in the USA
By 1873 it appeared for the first time on a menu at Delmonico’s in New York City (previously – New Amsterdam, watch my posts on this). After developing a special bun for the hamburger in 1916, Walter Anderson and Edgar Ingram opened White Castle, the world’s first burger chain in Kansas in 1921. In 1928 the first burger “with cheese” appeared on a menu at O’Dell’s Diner in Los Angeles and in 1935 the word “cheeseburger” was coined by Denver’s Humpty Dumpty drive-in.
In 1940 the iconic McDonald’s Bar-B-Que opened in San Bernardino , California; in 1948 brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald turned the focus to their 15-cent hamburger. Led by McDonald’s American-style franchised fast food spread globally. Even restaurant chefs were following suit: in the 1950s the first gourmet burger was featured at New York’s 21 Club. McDonald’s released its famous Big Mac in 1968. By the 2000s, America had become a burger-obsessed nation; in 2001burgers made up 71% of all beef served in commercial restaurants. Today the US alone eats more than 40 billion burgers annually.
Brief History of the Hamburger.