The Origin of the Hamburger

Hamburgers are almost daily delicacies for many households in the 21st century. Just like frankfurter and wiener, the name hamburger has its origin in Hamburg, Germany. It is, therefore, a demonym of the second-largest city in Germany.

As the years progressed, the name became more popular and finally took hold among many people, and most people could immediately recongnise a hamburger no matter where they went. Most people know it simply as a burger. However, various kinds of burgers are made from different meats, including chicken, salmon and buffalo meat. We even have vegan burgers which have won various awards.

American Hamburger Origin Theories

Although many people have become accustomed to burgers, its origin is not entirely clear. Hannah Glasse, the author of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, included the Hamburgh sausage to her 1758 recipes. She suggested it ought to be served roasted plus a toasted bread beneath it. In the 1860s, bread roll warm or rundstuck warm was another popular snack, quite similar to the burger that emigrants enjoyed as they headed to America. In the 1840s, the Hamburg America Line served the hamburg steak between two bread pieces. This might explain the origin of the name and maybe the food’s origin.

Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut congresswoman, claims that the hamburger was invented in America in the 1900s. She ascribes the main contribution to Louis Lassen, a Danish immigrant who owned Louis’ Lunch, a New Haven dinner. More claims around its invention revolve around Fletcher Davis, Oscar Weber Bilby, Charlie Nagreen, Frank, and Charles Menches. According to White Castle, the famous American hamburger chains, more reliable traces of the origin are found in Germany, and Otto Kuase might be the actual name behind the invention.

The Growth of the Hamburger in the US

Louis Lassen’s invention was the first hamburger to be sold in the US in 1900. However, New York Magazine disputes this, claiming that the dish served then was not necessarily a hamburger, since the bread used was toasted. In 1885, Charlie Nagreen placed a meatball between two bread slices and sold them as snacks during the Seymour Fair. He is said to be the man who named the delicacy after the Hamburg steak.

Despite many claims and disputes regarding who invented the hamburger, its popularity started growing significantly around 1904. Fast-food chains and restaurants such as White Castle, Kewpee Hamburgers, Big Boy and Little Tavern played significant roles in making the dish popular between the early 1920s and 1930s.

McDonalds took over the popularity in the 1940s, and fast foods such as Burger King picked up the momentum ever since. Today, you will barely find any restaurant that does not sell a hamburger. When it comes to popularity, cheeseburgers are more popular compared to plain beef or chicken burgers.