The Greasy History of Burgers (and some other patty facts)

The History of Burgers

Burgers! Hamburgers! Cheeseburgers! Whatever you want to call these greasy SOBs, the burger is at once celebrated and notorious.

For the sake of this piece, we’re going to label it as the burger. Just to clear that up right away!

Now, many of us will associate the food with America. They sure love them over there—it’s the US equivalent of England’s fish & chips.

But where did the burger hail from? And where is it going!? Let’s find out in a deep dive feature about this glorified sandwich.

What’s a Burger?

A burger (or hamburger) is a sandwich involving a fried meat patty (usually of beef) between a bun or bread roll.

Lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mustard are often added to the mix.

Basically, a burger is this thing right here:


Yes, that was an entire line dedicated to the burger emoji.

To clear this complex situation up further, a cheeseburger is also a burger (hamburger). It’s just got cheese added to the top. But most people will order a burger and expect cheese with it anyway…

Whatever you want to call it, the burger is a burger and we usually think of one as a slab of meat between some bread. That simple.

It’s tasty. It’s filling. It’s one of the leading fast foods in the world. And it’s pretty goddamn bad for you (shhhh!) and all that.

Also, we’re here to plug one of our sponsors!

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The Types of Burgers

Right, we were going to cover this in the previous section. But there are so many types of burger, it’s better to dedicate an entire new section to all of this.

Okay, without further ado here’s the list. The types of burgers available are:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Fish
  • Portobello
  • Lamb
  • Veggie
  • Vegan
  • Pizza burger (yes, this is a thing)
  • Donut burger (yes, this is also a thing)
  • Frog burger (it’s a thing in Japan)

We did a dodgy burger special way back in 2013 about how some of the above can go a bit wrong.

But most of the time, it’s difficult to mess up a burger. Bread. Patty of your choice. And that’s kind of it.

Yet for such a simple foodstuff, boy is it iconic and, in many respects, a patriotic/nationalistic icon that backs up many a chest thumping ideology.

The History of Burgers (this is where it gets complicated)

Right… brace yourselves for this. The origins of the burger may be simple enough, dating back (as records do) to the 19th century.

But the country that invented the burger is hotly disputed. However, it seems likely it was one of two countries that has this claim to fame:

  1. The United States of America 🇺🇸
  2. Germany 🇩🇪

The name hamburger hails from the seaport town of Hamburg in Germany.

It’s believed 19th century sailors spread the idea of shredded beef back from the Baltic provinces. Then, at some point, a chef cooked up some beef patties.

These made their way to the US, with the first arrival at the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904.

However, and unsurprisingly, there’s ongoing contested debate about who created the things in those greasy origins story.

The problem here is bread and ground beef steaks have been consumed on the same plate, in many countries, for a very long time. Just not in traditional burger form (bread, lettuce, ketchup, and all that).

Ancient Roman cookbooks like Apicius (or the De re culinarai) from circa fourth century AD has a recipe for a baked beef patty.

And we’re sure someone, in all of human pre-history and history, figured to put some beef between some bread (itself invented in 8000 BC in Egypt).

As it’s such a contested issue, we really have to just look at the burger in its modern form and where it hailed from. Rather than just the beef patty, which has clearly been around for a long time, but only as a combination with bread and basic veg.

Many food historians agree with the consensus a cook invented the hamburger in Texas.

From 1891, there are records of a flame-grilled beef patty with bread combo. This was created to celebrate the fourth of July celebrations in Oklahoma.

But the United States Library of Congress states Louis Lassen as the creator of the first hamburger. However, the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition, in Missouri, is where Fletcher Davis claims to have served burgers since the 1880s.

Over the following decades, a few crucial steps were made:

  • 1916: Chef Walter Anderson trades burgers from a food cart.
  • 1921: Anderson creates White Castle with entrepreneur Billy Ingram (as of 2022, the regional hamburger chain now has 377 locations in 13 states).
  • 1925: The Cheese Hamburger opens in Pasadena, California. Lionel Sternberger (apt surname) is responsible for this one. And he’s the first man in human history… to add cheese over a patty in a bun. He called this the Cheese Hamburger.
  • 1931: Wimpy opens!
  • 1935: Louis Ballast creates the name cheeseburger for Humpty Dumpty Drive-In (now defunct).
  • 1948: McDonald’s is born!
  • 1954: Burger King hits the scene.
  • 1955: Ray Kroc joins the McDonald’s brothers in running the business. Kroc eventually went on to take over the business entirely, turning it into a global powerhouse.
  • 1967: The Big Mac is born!

Despite all of the controversies surrounding its origins, there’s no denying the United States pretty much has ownership of burgers.

The country popularised the dish and, with major fast food franchises, sent it hurtling around the world with wanton abandon.

Think of the foodstuff and you think of the 50 states and that massive country. It’s iconic, along the lines of fried chicken and mom’s apple pie.

And a major contributor towards that status was a brand with some legendary golden arches.

The History of the Big Mac

The Big Mac is, arguably, the most famous burger in the world. So, we thought we’d cover a little bit about it here.

As we found out from reading Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation (2002), there’s this fast food restaurant called McDonald’s.

They do this thing called the Big Mac.

And… okay, so we know about the Big Mac as, like most people, we’ve stuffed our faces with the things in the past. Largely thanks to the abundance of McDonald’s restaurants in the UK.

We don’t eat there anymore, but there’s no denying the impact of the fast food chain on the entire bloody world.

And the Big Mac is its leading foodstuff thing. It was invented by Jim Delligatti (1918-2016).

So, yes, it was created in 1967 and introduced to Greater Pittsburgh. It was popular, so went nationwide in 1968. It consists of:

  • Two beef patties
  • Ketchup
  • Cheese slices
  • Lettuce
  • Pickles and onions
  • A three-party sesame seed bun

In the US, around 550 million Big Macs are sold each year. That’s about 17 every second.

Despite its stodgy looks, the thing isn’t too bad for you. It’s roughly around 540 calories, which is actually pretty modest. Although there are 29 grams of fat, which is pretty awful.

But it’s far from the worst burger on the market. Indeed.

What’s the Unhealthiest Burger in the World?

Well, that’s debatable. There are some seriously unhealthy burgers out there.

But the The Octuple Bypass Burger at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas (that’s the real name of the restaurant) is certainly in the running.

Apparently, it packs in around 20,000 calories and consists of:

  • 8.5 beef patties
  • 40 slices of bacon (so, it’s kind of a bacon butty as well)
  • 16 slices of cheese (you’d expect more, to be honest)
  • One onion
  • Two tomatoes
  • Some chilli

As you might expect, Heart Attack Grill is one of the most controversial fast food joints in the US. To live up to its name, it has a hospital theme where waiters and waitresses dress as doctors and nurses.

Diners place “prescriptions” (as in, orders). But customers are classed as “patients”. And each patient gets a hospital gown and a wristband when they arrive.

This controversial approach has been part of the restaurant’s marketing strategy. Which probably helps it deal with the negative press when someone dies at the restaurant, which has happened on several occasions.

For example, one customer in February 2012 suffered a heart attack whilst eating the Triple Bypass Burger. It was Jon Basso, the restaurant owner, who dialled 911.

That’s, er… yeah.

Not that we’re saying this is only a US thing, as in England there’s The George Pub & Grill in Stockton on Tees, Middlesbrough (home to the legendary parmo).

Created by pub owner Craig Harker, it’s the tallest burger in the UK and packs in 30,000 calories. It consists of:

  • 10 meat patties
  • 20 slices of cheese
  • 2 beef tomatoes
  • One red oonion
  • One onion rings
  • BBQ sauce
  • Mayonnaise

It costs £35 ($44.10) and the amount of food involved is enough to feed one person, every single day for, for a fortnight.

The burger stands at 28 inches (2.3 feet).

Some have dubbed it the 999 burger and we’ve seen some people claim you get a free tombstone if you drop dead whilst eating the thing (but we couldn’t verify that claim).

Oh well, here’s the burger in all its glory. Behold!

And if the above weren’t enough, there’s also this right right here. Take a look at it and marvel. Go on!

Donut burgers are a thing in America and consist of a burger cooked inside a donut.

Or, with some of the other examples you can find, it’s just a cooked bit of meat with two donuts around it. Why go all fancy like the above video when it’s just the same thing?

Regardless, it’s important to point out this is probably less healthy than Scotland’s deep fried Mars Bar.

So if you want to be alive by the end of 2022, we suggest you plump for the Scottish dish over anything involving donuts and fatty, fried red meats.

How to Make a Burger

The insanity burger!? The insanity of how hot Jamie Oliver is, more like! GET ‘EM OFF!!

Well, that aside, it’s great he’s then with his American mate to offer tips on how to add a beef patty to some bread.

If you’d like to accomplish this great feat, here are the likely ingredients you’ll need:

Half a tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion
500 grams of meat
1 tablespoon of mixed dried herbs
1 egg
4 slices of cheese
Brown bread buns (not white bread, you heathen)
1 beef tomato

Yeah. You know the drill. Cook the meat patty. Then add it to the buns and layer all the stuff up in all the luxurious glory.

One of the main draws of this recipe is the accessibility.

Even a halfwit can compile the stuff together and revel in the moment at, for example, a summer’s day barbeque event. Spiffing!

Now Let’s Look at Vegan Burgers

Oh yes, don’t forget! The rise of veganism and vegetarianism and the many and varied burgers this movement has brought about.

Some people may really not like it, but veering towards going vegan (as one Oxford Uni study suggested in 2019) is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact.

And the good news there is vegan burgers are mega tasty! We reviewed the super tasty Beyond Burger in August 2019 to rapturous interest.

And then there was the Vivera Veggie Steak, which was seriously nice!

It’s at this stage 50+ year old geezers would start dropping jokes about veganism to accommodate for their childlike ignorance, but whether you want to stick to red meat or not… vegan burgers are very tasty.

We don’t get why some people feel so threatened by vegan foods, but you can’t knock them until you’ve tried them.

How to Make a Veggie Burger

Ermahgerd! A double dose of dreamboat Jamie Oliver IN THE SAME POST, who can live at this speed!?

We had a look at a portobello jackfruit recipe. Here’s what you’d need:

900 grams of potatoes
3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
8 large portobello mushrooms
410 grams of jackfruit
2 tablespoons of tamari
400 grams of chickpeas
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
2 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of wholemeal spelt flour

Handy, eh? Cobble the lot together and cook it up in usual fashion.

Our tip is also to lightly toast your bread bun before layering up all the ingredients. It adds a rather nice extra added crunch.

Burger-Based Conclusion

Yeah, just a little nod to SpongeBob SquarePants there and the Krabby Patty burgers that populate the surreal world Patrick lives in.

Now, burgers aren’t what we eat very often. In part as we eat very little red meat. It’s a rarity for us to have a hamburger, really.

But we do like the healthier vegan option from time to time.

Ultimately, that means jack. The world loves burgers. The US loves burgers. You could argue they should amend the constitution for the right to eat burgers.

From stats we looked up, in 2012 Americans ate:

  • At least three burgers a week
  • Over 50 billion burgers annually

And around 140 million burgers are consumed every day in the US.

Now, that’s a lot of meat to generate. Whilst you may all enjoy that overindulgence, it’s easy to forget (or just ignore) the colossal environmental impact of such huge scale meat industry requirements.

And also the suffering cattle must go through.

Naturally, many people simply don’t give a toss about that. They don’t think much of seeing a red meat disc on a supermarket shelf before buying it.

And the burger industry is now so vast, so indomitable, we can’t imagine even a nuclear explosion stopping its quest for profits.


  1. Personally I think Germany originated the Hamburger. I think it’s a bad food for us though it is tasty. Veggie burgers are ok ( what’s in those thing?) but you have to pile on lettuce tomatoes pickles cheese to hide the taste of the veggie burger. most importantly is that I was not able to open up the Jamie links. You’ve got some mansplaining to do.

    Liked by 1 person

Dispense with some gibberish!

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