During a trip to Asia in the early 1800s, a German merchant – it is said – noticed that the nomadic Tartars softened their meat by keeping it under their saddles. The motion of the horse pounded the meat to bits. The Tartars would then scrape it together and season it for eating. The idea of pounded beef found its way back to the merchant’s home town of Hamburg where cooks broiled the meat and referred to it as it as Hamburg meat.
German immigrants introduced the recipe to the US. The term “hamburger” is believed to have appeared in 1834 on the menu from Delmonico’s restaurant in New York but there is no surviving recipe for the meal. The first mention in print of “Hamburg steak” was made in 1884 in the Boston Evening Journal.
The honor of producing the first proper hamburger goes to Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin, USA. In 1885 Nagreen introduced the American hamburger at the Outgamie County Fair in Seymour. (Seymour is recognized as the hamburger capital of the world.)
However, there is another claim to that throne. There is an account of Frank and Charles Menches who, also in 1885, went to the Hamburg, New York county fair to prepare their famous pork sausage sandwiches. But since the local meat market was out of pork sausage, they used ground beef instead. Alas, another hamburger.
The first account of serving ground meat patties on buns – taking on the look of the hamburger as we know it today – took place in 1904 at the St. Louis World Fair. But it was many years later, in 1921, that an enterprising cook from Wichita, Kansas, Walt Anderson, introduced the concept of the hamburger restaurant. He convinced financier Billy Ingram to invest $700 to create The White Castle hamburger chain. It was an instant success. The rest of the history, we might say, belongs to McDonald’s.
And, no, a hamburger does not have any ham in it. Well, it’s not supposed to. Hamburger meat usually is made of 70-80% beef and fat and spices.
Why is a hotdog called a hotdog?
In 1987, Frankfurt, Germany celebrated the 500th birthday of the frankfurter, the hot dog sausage. Although, the people of Vienna (Wien), Austria will point out that their wiener sausages are proof of origin for the hot dog. (By the way, ham, being pork meat, is found in hotdogs.) In “Every wonder why?” Douglas B. Smith explains that the hotdog was given its name by a cartoonist.
A butcher from Frankfurt who owned a dachshund named the long frankfurter sausage a “dachshund sausage,” the dachshund being a slim dog with a long body. (“Dachshund” is German for “badger dog.” They were originally bred for hunting badgers.) German immigrants introduced the dachshund sausage (and Hamburg meat) to the United States. In 1871, German butcher Charles Feltman opened the first “hotdog” stand in Coney Island, selling 3,684 dachshund sausages, most wrapped in a milk bread roll, during his first year in business.
In the meantime, frankfurters – and wieners – were sold as hot food by sausage sellers. In 1901, New York Times cartoonist T.A. Dargan noticed that one sausage seller used bread buns to handle the hot sausages after he burnt his fingers and decided to illustrate the incident. He wasn’t sure of the spelling of dachshund and simply called it “hot dog.”
Recipes for placing meat between slices of bread date back to Roman times. However, that was for steak, not minced meat. Thus, the steak burger is older than the hamburger!
Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey in the 9th century BC.
The tongue is a muscle with glands, sensory cells, and fatty tissue that helps to moisten food with saliva. You cannot taste food unless it is mixed with saliva. For instance, if salt is placed on a dry tongue, the taste buds will not be able to identify it. As soon as saliva is added, the salt dissolves and the taste sensation takes place.
There are 4 basic tastes plus umami. The salt and sweet taste buds are at the tip of the tongue, bitter at the base, sour along the sides, and umami along the center of the tongue.