Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An American Classic - The Hamburger!

There is something very American about a hamburger. I might be an anglophile, but I will never give up the want or need for a thick, juice patty of ground beef...usually slathered with cheese, pickles, mustard and ketchup for me.

On a recent business trip to Ohio, I came across a Johnny Rockets in the Columbus airport. I ordered, sat and enjoyed. As I took one juice bite after the next, I took in my surroundings. For those that have not been to a Johnny Rockets before, they are a homage to "the Good Ol' Days" - the 1950's soda shops. There are Coca-Cola ads with kids enjoying a tall drink, pictures of candy apple red hot rods scattered all over the walls and a wonderful mix of Doo Wap and Jukebox music filling the air.

What do you think of when you think of a big juicy burger? Do you imagine a soda jerk bringing you a hamburger, milkshake and fries? How about the joy you felt when you were 5 and got a happy meal from McDonald's when you achieved a goal? What about summer barbeques with fresh corn, burgers on the grill and chips on the table?

The Hamburger is mixed to a lot of very American memories and emotions. But...how did it all start? Well, what could be more American that at a County Fair? According to Wikipedia, there are a couple of legends. One is that residents of Hamburg, New York, which was named after Hamburg, Germany, attribute the hamburger to Ohioans Frank and Charles Menches. According to legend, the Menches brothers were vendors at the 1885 Erie County Fair (then called the Buffalo Fair) when they ran out of sausage for sandwiches and used beef instead, naming the result after the location of the fair.

Another also includes a Fair. The Seymour Community Historical Society of Seymour, Wisconsin, credits Charlie Nagreen. Now known as "Hamburger Charlie", Nagreen was fifteen when he reportedly made sandwiches out of meatballs he was selling at the 1885 Outagamie County Fair (now the Seymour Fair), so that customers could eat while walking. The Historical Society explains that Nagreen named the hamburger after the Hamburg steak with which local German immigrants were familiar.

One more fun fact before we go...For us in NYC - in 1921, due to widely prevalent anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during World War I, an alternative name for hamburgers (remember Hamburg, Germany?) was salisbury steak. Following the war, hamburgers became unpopular until the White Castle restaurant chain marketed and sold large numbers of small 2.5-inch square hamburgers, known as slyders. They started to punch five holes in each patty, which help them cook evenly and eliminates the need to flip the burger. White Castle was the first to sell their hamburgers in grocery stores and vending machines.

However you enjoy your burger...I hope you take as much joy as I did with my BBQ Burger on a cool Tuesday afternoon at the airport in Columbus, OH!

Thank you Wikipedia for your info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburger

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