Set of homemade mini burgers with stew beef, tomatoes and basil on wooden background, Modern delicious fast food, Flat lay, copy space. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The Complicated Origins Of Hamburgers
By Kimberley Laws
Americans would agree that life is better with hamburgers, but unraveling the complex origins surrounding their inception is a complicated endeavor. Filmmaker and hamburger expert George Motz pointed out the first possible mention of the hamburger in an ancient Roman cookbook dating back to the first century B.C.E.
Per Motz, the book contains a recipe "suspiciously close to the modern burger, a minced-meat patty blended with crushed nuts," which is "heavily spice and cooked." Of course, the German city of Hamburg holds a strong claim, as that’s where the food gets its name.
German immigrants came to America in the mid-1800s and brought their Hamburg chopped steak with them. Food carts and restaurants offered the steak, and according to a possibly-apocryphal story reported by Parade, someone soon came up with the idea to put it between two pieces of bread.
Several other men could also be the father of the hamburger, like Fletcher Davis from Texas, whom ABC News claims was the first person to put a patty on bread in the 1880s, later selling the creation at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. The descendants of Louis Lassen from Connecticut claim he created the hamburger in 1900, and the Library of Congress backs their claim up.
Another man, known only as “Hamburger Charlie,” allegedly gave the hamburger its name after smashing meatballs between two pieces of bread in 1885. Perhaps multiple people came up with the idea around the same time, or perhaps the hamburger’s true origin has been lost to history, but burger fans are just happy it here's now.