A Brief History of the Hamburger

Meet everyone’s favorite hamburger – a bun with a meat patty in the middle, often flavored with a lettuce leaf or a slice of cheese. Hamburger is simple and complex at the same time. Sometimes we think we know all about the most American fastdood, but if we dig deeper into its history and origins, it may turn out that we do not know very much.

In this article, we will try to study the history and etymology of the hamburger, as well as its most common varieties in different American states.

What We Know About Hamburger Origin?

At first hamburger was not hamburger. It was hamburg steak, a dish of ground beef brought to America by German immigrants from Hamburg in the 19th century. According to some theories hamburgers were invented in Germany at least as early as the 16th or 17th century, when it is known that Hamburg residents ate minced raw meat seasoned with salt and pepper for breakfast. Hamburg steak reciperegarding a “hamburger sandwich” appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1896:

“A distinguished favorite, only five cents, is Hamburger steak sandwich, the meat for which is kept ready in small patties and ‘cooked while you wait’ on the gasoline range.”

The exact origin of “Hamburger” is unknown, but there are several theories about how the hamburger came to be. One theory suggests that the hamburger was invented by a cook named Louis Lassen who worked at a restaurant called the New York Deli in Seymour, Connecticut. Another theory claims that the hamburger was first created by Charlie Nagreen, who sold meatballs at a fair near Seymour, Wisconsin in 1885. However, the most popular theory is that the hamburger was actually invented by Frank and Charles Menches of Akron, Ohio. According to this story, the brothers were traveling through Hamburg, Germany (thus giving hamburgers their name) and ran out of pork for their hamburgers.

However, hamburgers weren’t widely known until around 1900, when street vendors started selling hamburger sandwiches on buns at fairs and carnivals across America (likely inspired by hot dog stands) and gained national recognition at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. An article from ABC News sums it up as follows:

“One problem is that there is little written history. Another issue is that the spread of the burger happened largely at the World’s Fair, from tiny vendors that came and went in an instant. And it is entirely possible that more than one person came up with the idea at the same time in different parts of the country.”

Hamburgers Today

Hamburgers have become an American staple and are now enjoyed all over the world. In fact, McDonald’s is the most popular fast food chain in the world and sells billions of hamburgers every year. Another USA fast food restaurants that serve Hamburgers today are:

  • McDonald’s
  •  Burger King
  • Wendy’s
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Whataburger
  • Dairy Queen
  • Arby’s
  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Roy Rogers Restaurants.

There are many variations of the hamburger, including cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, veggie burgers, and turkey burgers. The hamburger is also often served with french fries or onion rings. There are also a variety of toppings that can be added to hamburgers, such as cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, or a “special sauce.” They can be prepared many different ways: flame broiled, pan fried or grilled; they can also include smoked beef patty or strips of bacon in the sandwich itself. There are hamburgers made from turkey meat instead of beef for people who don’t eat pork products such Jews or Muslims.

Classic Hamburger Recipe

So next time you’re in the mood for a hamburger, why not try making one yourself? Here’s a recipe for classic hamburgers from The Food Network:


  • Ground beef (85% lean)
  • Egg
  • Bread crumbs
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat grill to medium-high heat. In a bowl, mix together ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Form mixture into four patties. Grill burgers for six to eight minutes per side or until desired doneness is reached. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

American States Hamburger Varieties

Regional USA states hamburger varieties include:

  • New England hamburger

The hamburger is usually topped with mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup and served on a hamburger roll. Some restaurants offer “hamburgs” that are made from lamb, as an alternative to hamburgers made from beef.

  •  Chicago hamburger

The Chicago-style hamburger is a variation on the traditional hamburger that is popular in the city of Chicago. It is made with a hamburger patty that is topped with bacon, American cheese, dill pickles, tomato sauce, and onion.

  • Sailor hamburger

A Sailor hamburger is is popular in the state of Maine. It is made with a hamburger patty, served on a bun, and topped with lobster meat.

  • Minneapolis hamburger

the Minneapolis Juicy Lucy Burger contains cheese inside the burger patty rather than on top. This creates a molten cheese center that makes the burger extra juicy and oozy. This hamburger is so popular that it’s even trademarked by the bar where it originated and there are several annual festivals to celebrate this hamburger.

America’s Most Famous Food

Thank you for reading about the history of the hamburger! We hope that this has been educational and informative to understand how one of America’s most famous foods came to be! If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on our Facebook page. You can also see some other posts we’ve shared about food here.