The Burger Timeline is a history fraught with uncertainty and conflict. We will write it out with as much fact as possible, but the reality is some of the burger origin stories are unsubstantiated. The likelihood is that there are many inventors of the hamburger, just several people in different areas that came up with similar ideas around the same time. More and more people needed convenient on-the-go-food around the time hamburgers took off, so adding bread to an existing menu dish just made sense. Keep reading for more information about the timeline of burgers.
Burger Roots Timeline
1st Century AD
Isicia Omentata is a minced meat meal traditionally made from lean meat (beef, chicken, peacock, pheasant, pork, or rabbit), pine nuts, pepper, wine, garum, and caul fat.
The Mongols took raw scraps of meat and formed them into patties and placed them under their saddles for tenderization and storage while traveling and in battle. When the Mongols invaded Russia this food was introduced there, where chefs add eggs and onions.
Ships arrive in Russia from Hamburg, Germany and adopt the meat preparation that came from the Mongold. It is called tartare steak.
In London, The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse is published. The cookbook contains a recipe for Hamburg Sausage which contains minced beef, cloves, garlic, nutmeg, pepper, red wine, rum, salt, suet, and vinegar.
Hamburg steak is added to the Oxford English Dictionary. It is defined as “a hard slab of salted minced beef, often slightly smoked, mixed with onions and breadcrumbs.”
The first meat grinder was invented by G. A. Coffman. He called his invention the Machine for Cutting Sausage Meat.
1870 to 1890
German immigrants introduce the Hamburg steak to New York at restaurants, food stalls, and food carts.
Burger Timeline: Here Comes the Bread
In Athens, Texas, Fletcher Davis claims to have created a burger (fried ground beef patty with mustard and Bermuda onion between bread) for his small restaurant. However, it wasn’t until 1904 at the St Louis World’s Fair that Davis took his burger to a wider audience.
The Menches brothers claimed that they created the burger when they ran out of pork sausages at the Erie County Fair in New York. So, they began to put beef in a sandwich.
At the Seymour Fair in Wisconsin, Charlie Nagreen smashed a beef meatball between bread so his customers had a portable meal.
In Oklahoma, Oscar Weber Bilby and his wife, Fanny, put a flame-grilled beef patty on a sourdough bun to celebrate Independence Day. This was the first documented burger in a bun.
Louis Lassen, owner of Louis’ Lunch, served beef patties between slices of toast to customers in a hurry. The Library of Congress attributes the invention of the burger to Louis Lassen.
In Wichita, Kansas, Walter Anderson served burgers (on buns) at his food cart.
White Castle, the original fast food burger restaurant, was founded by Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram.
The first cheeseburger (cheese hamburger) was claimed to be made at the Rite Spot, a diner in Pasadena, California by Lionel Sternberger. Cheese was placed over the patty and in a bun.
Originally called Bob’s Pantry, Bob’s Big Boy, was founded in California.
The first McDonald’s was opened by Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California.
The first Burger King is founded in Miami, Florida
Ray Croc partners with the McDonald’s brothers and later buys them out in 1961.
The Whopper is introduced by Burger King.
The Big Mac was introduced by Jim Delligatti in Uniontown, PA. The franchise owner did something right because the Big Mac was quickly expanded to all of McDonald’s restaurants and is still being made today.
Wendy’s is founded by Dave Thomas in Columbus, Ohio.
In Arlington, Virginia, Five Guys is founded.
The first Shake Shack opens in New York City.
Burger-ish, a Latin-Caribbean fusion burgery, opens in St. Pete’s Beach.
When Were Burgers Invented?
But America claims the true roots of the burger. It was most likely invented between 1870 and 1890 and popularized at state fairs. Hamburg steaks were popularized by German immigrants. The growing popularity of the hotdog and its portability is most likely why hamburg steaks started to be served with bread.
Now you have the entire, mostly factual Burger Timeline! Are you hungry?! We are! Come on out for some amazing all beef burgers and more at Burger-ish in St. Pete’s Beach! Look for the green umbrellas!