It’s no secret that Americans have an ongoing love affair with burgers, which is why McDonalds’s is never going out of business. In fact, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. So as you munch on your gourmet burger or fast-food burger, here’s some trivia about burgers that you can spout to amaze your friends the next time you see them.
- There are several different versions as to the true origins of the hamburger. The official origin story according to the Library of Congress is that Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch in New Haven Connecticut invented the modern hamburger in 1895. Lassen ran a lunch wagon selling steak sandwiches to local factory workers, and he always had unsold excess beef after the lunch rush. Since he hated wasting the beef, he ground them and grilled them, and then served it between slices of bread.
- Today, the latest members of the Lassen family still serve hamburgers the old-fashioned way. Only 3 garnishes—cheese, tomato, and onions—are acceptable. And don’t even think about using mustard or ketchup. Either you eat the Lassen burger the way it is or you don’t get eat at all.
- Cheeseburgers didn’t follow right away. It was only in the 1920s when a chef placed a slice of cheese in Lionel Sternberger in Pasadena. And the chef didn’t even think up the concept himself. He did it at the request of the homeless guy he was feeding that day.
- There’s an actual National Burger Day, and it’s May 28. Some even consider May as the National Burger Month. But considering how people in the country just eat burgers on a regular basis, it seems like every month is a National Burger Month.
- American restaurants served 9 billion burgers in 2014. McDonald’s led the way, since they sell 75 burgers every second of every day. That’s 4,500 burgers a minute, 270,000 burgers an hour, and 6.48 million burgers a day. In a year, that’s 2,365,200,000 burgers. If the trend holds true for 2016, that will be 2, 371,680,000 burgers since it’s a leap year.
- The first Big Mac was actually fairly recent, as it was first launched in 1968. It sold for 49¢.
- Each regional area in the US seems to have its own take on the hamburger. In New Mexico, you have to try the green chile cheeseburger. In Utah, a popular version is the pastrami cheeseburger. Minneapolis is the home of the Juicy Lucy, which comes with hot cheese cooked right inside the burger patty. In Texas, they really like to think big, as they include Fritos, refried beans, and Cheez Whiz along with onions for their burgers.
In New York, there are numerous types of burgers that can cater to your every whim. In fact, there’s even an Umami Burger so you’ll know just what that 5th taste is all about.
- Is it still a burger if it doesn’t use beef? This is a point of contention for some purists, since some restaurants seem to use the word “burger” for all types of sandwiches. For example, veggie burgers don’t use beef, obviously.
- One reason why burgers are so popular is that they smell wonderful—a whiff can make you feel hungry right away. Maybe that’s why Burger King actually released burger-scented body spray and cologne products in 2008. They even dubbed it “Flame”! However, it turned out that other people didn’t find the scent of burgers all that appealing coming from people.
- There’s actually a Hamburger Hall of Fame, which you can visit the next time you pass by the lovely town of Seymour, Wisconsin.
- Remember when Fox News and the Republicans tried to get people to use the term “Liberty fries” for French fries when France didn’t support the invasion of Iraq? The use of the word “Liberty” to sub for German dish names is an old trick that dates back to WWI.
Back then, the US government had people use the term Liberty Sandwich for hamburgers, which got its name from the city of Hamburg in Germany. This propaganda measure applied to sauerkraut, which sounded so German that it was supposed to be called Liberty Cabbage instead. And believe it or not, you didn’t get German measles at the time. Yup, you got Liberty measles instead.
- Hamburgers make up 60% of all sandwiches sold. Back in 2001, it was just 40%. It seems that people aren’t all that enamored of club sandwiches and BLTs anymore.
- One lady in South Korea is known as the Black Widow of Competitive Eating. This lady is just 5 feet tall, and she once completely ate a 9-pound burger in under 27 minutes!
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