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What comes to mind when you hear the word hamburger? Maybe you immediately think of places like McDonald’s, Burger King, and White Castle or about delicious fresh ground beef covered with a tower of cheese and sauces. Whether it’s the first or latter, chances are that your mouth starts watering.

We know that the hamburger was around by the turn of the twentieth century, but Alan Rocke, a history professor at Case Western Reserve University, says that doesn’t mean it was respected back then. “It was considered questionable food except for workingmen’s lunches, as hamburgers were commonly ‘mystery meat’ served in small greasy-spoon short-order diners, often set up near factories,” Rocke says.

When people started driving more the hamburger became much more desirable because it was the perfect on-the-go meal. Now it’s a huge part of our culture.

Here’s a historic look at hamburgers:

  • 1836 New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant issues the first printed American menu and lists “hamburger steak” as one of the priciest items for 10 cents.
  • 1884 A recipe for Hamburg steak is published in Mary Johnson Lincoln’s Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book.
  • 1885 Charles Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin, claims to invent the hamburger when he places fried ground meat between two slices of bread so that patrons of his Outgamie County Fair food stand can eat while they walk.
  • 1892 Frank Menches claims to invent the hamburger when he decides to grind up meat and serve it as a patty because he risks running out of sausage at his Akron County Fair concession stand.
  • 1896 The Hamburg steak is such a popular dish that Fannie Farmer writes nothing more than basic instructions in her definitive Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.
  • 1900 Louis Lassen of Louis Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, lays claim to the invention of the hamburger when he grinds up lean beef, broils it, and serves it between slices of toast.
  • 1906 Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, in which he discusses the horrid state of Chicago meatpacking plants and puts the nation on edge about the cleanliness of the food supply.
  • 1921 Real estate and insurance agent Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram teams up with cook Walter Anderson to open the first White Castle hamburger stand in Wichita, Kansas. Anderson invents the modern hamburger when he cooks patties of ground meat on the griddle and serves them with a mess of onions on a soft yeast bun; they’re sold for 5 cents each.

We encourage you to honor National Burger Month, which occurs every May, by taking advantage of some of the great hamburger deals throughout Philly.

Bank & Bourbon
They are offering a locally brewed Yard’s Brawler – Philadelphia’s own, with malt forward and delicately hopped character – with a custom blended dry-aged burger that is a mixed short rib, chuck and brisket. Their dry age burger is topped with a tower of shredded Grafton cheddar cheese, poblano peppers, house made pickles, and herb sauce on a toasted brioche. This combo is $20.

Morton’s Steakhouse
The steakhouse is offering a Million Dollar Burger that includes a traditional burger patty with foie gras, black truffle butter and braised short ribs. The burger is $39 and is paired with a glass of wine.

Hard Rock Cafe
They’re offering a tasting menu from around the world. Burger selections include: the Marimba Burger (Guatemala), a Sweet & Sour Burger (Hong Kong), the Cuban Burger (Miami), and the South Philly Burger (Philadelphia).

Kildare’s Pub
All four locations are offering a take on a famous fast food burger.  Now through May 10 is the Out-N-In Burger (mustard-cooked patty, pickles, and caramelized onions for $10.99). Next is a quad of Royal Burger sliders inspired by White Castle for $10.99, followed by the Smashburger-inspired Smooshed Burger for $9.99. The promotion wraps up with the Big MaCarthy Burger (two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, and cheese)

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