Folklore surrounds the history of burgers, with many versions of events telling the story of how and when this classic food favourite started. We cannot say for sure who was the first to create such a renowned menu staple, however, we do know a lot about how this sandwich grew.
Some reports claim the hamburger originated in 1758 in Hamburg, Germany. Whilst this origin is disputed, it is widely recognised that the burger came to prominence at the 1904 World Fair in St.Louis, USA. It was here that a newspaper, the New York Tribune, referred to it as the “innovation of a food vender”. Whilst there is no conclusive evidence to settle this argument, the burger fast became a beloved favourite in the USA and globally.
From here, it wasn’t long until the burger chains that we know and love today started to spring up. Between 1921 and 1969, six of the major chains, including the “big two”, McDonalds and Burger King, started popping up, and by 1985, it was reported that 1 out of every 6 visits to any restaurant was to the “Golden Arches”, McDonald’s.
Possibly unsurprisingly, burgers have changed since their introduction to the fast food market. They started as grilled mince meat in between a bun and unbelievably, it took until 1934, 30 years after the World Fair, for the first reports of the “Cheeseburger” to surface. In 1982, vegetarians could join in on the craze, as two brothers in London created the first Veggie Burger, creatively coined the “VegeBurger”. Further raising consumer awareness around where meat comes from and how the animals are raised, in 2005, you could buy the first organic burgers made from grass-fed, free-range beef. These days you can even get “beef burgers that bleed like the real thing” but are made of plant-based products, from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
The humble burger is not only making customers happy, with 50 million sold every year in the US – it’s also big business, with burgers contributing $73 billion (£55 billion) to the US economy each year, compared to a £3.3 billion generated by the UK high street.
A few fun facts you may not know about the burger:
- The claim for the oldest burger chain in America belongs to White Castle. Their first location was opened in 1921 where burgers cost a mere 5 cents each.
- The Big Mac was introduced in 1968 and was sold for 49 cents.
- Glamburger is a burger that features edible gold leaf, lobster and caviar. One of the most expensive burgers ever created, it also includes ingredients like black truffle, Kobe beef, venison and a duck egg. The burger, which was created in 2014 by Honky Tonk restaurant in London, cost £1,100.
- The world’s most expensive hamburger (it isn’t the Glamburger?!) is made in Corvallis, Oregon at Juicy’s Outlaw Grill – and is also the world’s largest hamburger, weighing 777 pounds.
Keep reading! Why not read our post on THE INSANITY BURGER!