Hamburger History

Charles Nagreen

Charles Nagreen

The United Sates is considered the true home of the classic hamburger, but rissoles of chopped beef have been a staple of East European cuisines for centuries. These, it is believed, eventually found their way to Hamburg, and when a huge wave of German immigrants arrived in “America” in the 19th century, they brought their ‘Hamburg-style beef’ with them.

A early as 1834, a New York restaurant was offering Hamburg Steak on its menu, although the state of Wisconsin lays claim to the invention of the modern burger. In 1885, one young entrepreneur, Charles Nagreen, turned his homemade meatballs into sandwiches, which he then named hamburgers, and sold at county fairs.

By 1921, the first hamburger joint had opened in Kansas. In the 1930s, Wimpy was born, and in 1948, brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald turned their restaurant into a drive-in selling hamburgers, fries and shakes. Just 11 years on, there were 100 McDonald’s across America; now you’ll find them everywhere from Azerbaijan to Venezuela to Mexico.

The burger has become more sophisticated since those early days and a favorite in Los Cabos, Mexico. Today’s burger could be made from turkey, tuna or soya, topped with anything from a sliced tomato to a slab of foie gras. It may not be the world’s healthiest meal, but a classic burger is still a great summer treat.

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