Sunday, May 14, 2023

Fun Food Trivia ~ Hamburger History

Fifty billion hamburgers! 

That’s how many patties-on-a-bun that Americans eat a year. Worldwide consumption? I can’t even imagine how staggering that number would be.

That’s a 2020 statistic. Here’s a more recent one.

In 2022, a food and recipe website called Pantry and Larder ranked the average hamburger consumption in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Here are the top three:

· Oregon ~ 79 per year
· Arizona ~ 77 per year
· Utah ~ 75 per year

At the bottom:

· Massachusetts ~ 42 per year
· New York ~ 41 per year
· Washington DC ~ 36 per year

Another fun fact ~ “Burger restaurants are most numerous in Arizona, where there are about 10.4 burger restaurants per 100,000 residents, and scarcest in D.C., where there are just 2.4” (Eat This).

Two weeks from today, May 28th, has been designated as National Hamburger Day. That’s a great day to celebrate this popular sandwich, but there’s no need to wait.

After all, May is National Hamburger Month! Why not eat a burger every day from here on out?!?!

Where Did It Come From?

Great question! The answer, however, is slightly complicated.

The name “hamburger” derives, of course, from the city of Hamburg, Germany, home of the Hamburgh sausage. This snack “combined a meatball similar to the Swedish meatball with a slice of bread for utensil-free handling” (National Today). Emigrants brought the snack with them to the United States during the 18th century.

However, the Library of Congress claims that Louis Lassen, the Danish owner of Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut cooked the first hamburger patty in 1900 (South Florida Reporter).

Then there’s Texan Fletcher Davis, a vendor who served hamburgers between slices of bread at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair to those who strolled the mile-long midway. The New York Tribune praised Mr. Davis’s innovation (National Today).

White Castle

The origins of the hamburger may be in dispute, but not the role of White Castle in increasing its popularity.

From the White Castle website:
“In 1921, Billy Ingram launched a family-owned business with $700 and an idea, selling five-cent, small, square hamburgers so easy to eat, they were dubbed Sliders and sold by the sack.”
Another source says that Mr. Ingram partnered with “Walter (Walt) A. Anderson (1880–1963), a cook, had been running food stands in Wichita since 1916, when he opened his first diner in a converted streetcar. After a second and third location, he was looking to open a fourth location when he met Edgar Waldo "Billy" A. Ingram (1880–1966), an insurance and real-estate man, and together they started the White Castle chain” (Wikipedia).

Their business was incorporated as White Castle System of Eating Houses Corporation in 1924.

A Few Fun Facts (White Castle)

· White Castle became the first fast food hamburger chain.
· Mr. Ingram invented the concept of carry-out.
· The tagline ~ “Selling ‘em by the sack.”
· In 1933, hamburger fans could buy five of the famous square sliders for a dime.
· In 1961, White Castle reached the huge milestone of selling one billion burgers.

“If I had a brick for every time I’ve repeated the phrase Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value, I think I’d probably be able to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with them.” ~ Ray Kroc
Dick and Mac McDonald operated a small restaurant with a limited menu—they served only burgers, fries and beverages. Mr. Kroc joined them and founded McDonald’s System, Inc. in 1955. The chain sold its 100 millionth hamburger in 1958 (McDonalds).

Mr. Kroc worked for the company until he died in January 1984.

A Few Fun Facts (McDonalds)

· In 1968, McDonalds introduced the Big Mac which it sold for 49 cents.
· The chain sells 75 hamburgers every second.
· One in eight Americans has been employed by the chain.
· The chain is the largest distributor of toys in the world.

Hamburger Hall of Fame

The town of Seymour, Wisconsin, described as “an idyllic community of about 3,000 located in the heart of dairy country fifteen miles west of Green Bay,” is home to the Hamburger Hall of Fame and the annual Burger Fest (Home of the Hamburger).

The museum and the festival celebrate Charlie Nagreen, also known as Hamburger Charlie, who is said to have invented the hamburger in 1885.

At that time, fifteen-year-old Charlie traveled from his home to the fair in Seymour to sell meatballs. However, the fairgoers were more interested in seeing the displays then taking the time to eat a meatball.

The enterprising teen smashed his meatballs between two slices of bread and…voila!...created his version of the hamburger any of the other contenders mentioned above.

The Home of the Hamburger website states:
“Numerous communities from New York to Texas claim to be the birthplace of the burger, but no one can supply any evidence dating back to 1885 like Seymour. Early newspaper articles, interviews with contemporaries and Charlie's daughter all verify the burger was served at the Seymour fair in 1885.”
The site includes links to interviews with Charlie’s daughter and his assistant plus newspaper articles that bolster the town’s claim.

Celebrating National Hamburger Month

With spring turning to summer, now is a great time to fry or grill your favorite meat combination for a tasty hamburger with all your favorite toppings.

Or let someone else do the cooking by gathering family and friends at a local restaurant that will add all those toppings for you.

When we fix hamburgers at home, I’m happy with pepperjack cheese, pickles, and aioli sauce. Take me to Bricktown Brewery—one of our family favorites—and I’ll probably order a cheeseburger with jalapeños and bacon.

I'd love to know...what’s your favorite burger?

Johnnie writes award-winning stories in multiple genres. A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, she shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Visit her at

(downloaded on May 7, 2023)

· “Louis Lassen's lunch wagon, circa 1907–1916”; public domain.

· “The White Castle restaurant at Queens Boulevard and 57th Avenue near Queens Center in Elmhurst, Queens.” Photo taken on 12 November 2017, 14:18:05 by Tdorante10. CC BY-SA 4.0.

· “The oldest operating McDonald’s restaurant was the third one built, opening in 1953. It is located at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. at Florence Ave. in Downey, California.” Photo by Bryan Hong (Brybry26) - Own work. CC BY-SA 2.5.

· “Plaque showing Charlie's chant on Hamburger Charlie statue in Seymour, Wisconsin.” WIMHARTER - Own work. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sources (accessed May 7, 2023)

Eat This

National Today

South Florida Reporter

White Castle



Home of the Hamburger


  1. Thank you for posting today, now I'm hungry for a burger! I will take a bacon cheeseburger please!!

  2. When I have a hamburger I prefer a cheese burger with pickles, lettuce and tomato. I love guacamole on it if it's available. Hubby and I never liked White Castle and our favorite hamburgers are those made from scratch in a variety of mom and pop restaurants. My son makes an awesome one.