The hamburger, or burger for short, is undoubtedly popular with everyone in the world. except perhaps to the hidden tribes on remote islands, the secluded ones in the Himalayas, and the like.
This popularity led to the question of where and how the hamburger was invented or discovered. Many explain and even insist that hamburgers were started by a certain person at some point in time in a certain place on earth, which is absurd.
It’s almost like saying Abraham Lincoln came across the first fried chicken when they started using edible cooking oil thousands of years ago. It is therefore only practical for us to follow the profound evolution of the affected meat, beef.
The civilizations before the mince
The first humans were hunters of a nomadic nature who moved from one place to another due to the need for food and water. This wandering habit subsided significantly with the creation of all agriculture.
The oldest record reached so far points to the Mesopotamian civilization when man domesticated cows. This civilization is said to have existed 10,000 years ago and marks the extremely long years before the hamburger developed.
In the meantime, many interpretations have been developed for refining the tough beef. Some historians credit the Mongols with tenderizing beef by placing platters of meat under their saddles during their adventures.
The Mongolian practice spread throughout the empire and the Russians took their tartar a step further in refinement. It eventually spread across Europe.
The German connection
Worldwide explorations and discoveries of remote places were already taking place when Germany became known as an international trading center through its port city of Hamburg.
Meat preparation, beef or pork, reached its peak by far when the Germans created the hamburger sausage and the hamburger steak. These two dishes were printed in books before 1800 and in the early years of the 19th century.
America was born just a few hundred years earlier when Germany was embroiled in political upheaval. This caused many German citizens to flee the country where many had ended up in the United States of America.
The influx of Germans brought with them not only their person, but also their food, where at the end of the 19th century the Hamburg steak was for the first time on the menu of a restaurant in New York City.
During this time, local trade shows were the best way to introduce a product to the American public. Two New York celebrities and one from Wisconsin both claim to be the original creator of the mince patty on a bun and held their respective local fairs.
It was still relatively unknown until it received significant attention at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, an event that Americans knew would display novel and exciting foods like peanut butter and cotton candy.
The hamburger’s rise to fame was halted by a book by Upton Sinclair called “The Jungle”, which mentions the ease with which minced beef can be adulterated and the hamburger right on the crosshairs.
A dozen years later, Edgar Ingram and Walter Anderson, undeterred by the reputation of minced meat, developed their own hamburger with their own rolls. With their success, they built White Castle in Kansas in 1921.
A variation of the hamburger came seven years later from a Los Angeles diner, O’Dell’s Diner, which added cheese. However, the first to have the word “cheeseburgers” on their menu came through Humpty Dumpty Drive-In seven years after dinner in Los Angeles.
Then, in 1940, McDonald’s came on the scene with a store in San Bernardino, California, but with the grill center stage. In 1948, brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald turned their attention back to their burgers, which at the time were only 15 cents.
It is hands down one of the most popular fast food items in the world, along with pizza, french fries, and fried chicken. Virtually anyone can make their own hamburgers at home using their own ingredients and sauces.
In the US alone, 40 billion burgers are eaten annually. Just imagine what the number is worldwide.