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    History of Cheeseburgers

    History of Cheeseburgers

    In one of our earlier blog entries, the culinary experts at Texas Chicken & Burger went into detail regarding the historical origins of Hamburgers, one of the cornerstones of our fresh, never frozen fast food business. In this blog entry, we’re going to discuss the history of Cheeseburgers, a subset of fast food that’s a true American Icon.

    Early Origins of Cheeseburgers

    You really can't chart the history of cheeseburgers without understanding their early historical origins. Similar foods to hamburgers and cheeseburgers existed in Ancient Rome, where 4th century records document the creation of a dish called 'Isicia Omentata', a baked ground beef patty which is likely the earliest version of a beef patty that was mixed with various oils and fats to affect Umami flavor and texture. Later, during the 1200s, the recipes for minced meat spread by Genghis Khan's invading Mongolian hordes developed within the city-states of current Germany to become  unique dishes called Labskaus and Mett - precursors to the recipe of steak tartare. However, the first use of bread to sandwich ground beef patties is a claim that many cultures take on for themselves. However, the contemporary word 'sandwich' originated from the year 1765, where the dish was named after the British aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who preferred eating his meat between slices of bread so that he could eat and play cards at the same time without transferring meat grease from his fingers to his playing cards.  The first documented American apprentice of the 'sandwich' style recipe happened in 1840, when the cookbook author Elizabeth Leslie Cook included it in a published recipe.

    Cheeseburger Apocrophy

    Many culinary history buffs give credit to a person named Lionel Sternberger, who, when he was 16 in the year 1924, placed a slice of American cheese onto a still-cooking hamburger while serving up food at his Pasadena, California family restaurant, the Rite Spot. He thought it was delicious as well as his entire family, and it quickly became a menu item called a “cheese hamburger.”The first known use of the term ‘cheeseburger’ happened at a Louisville, Kentucky restaurant called Kalelin’s. Charles Kaelin claims to be the inventor of the cheeseburger, in his desire to “add a new tang to the hamburger,” and Kaelin’s to this day claims to be the ‘birthplace of the cheeseburger.” However, the word cheeseburger was actually trademarked in 1935 by a man named Louis Ballast from Denver’s Humpty-Dumpty Drive In. Other reputed originators of the cheeseburger include: Los Angeles’ ‘O’Dell’s’ in 1928, and the chain Steak ‘n Shake - whose owner claims to have attempted to trademark the term ‘cheeseburger’ only to have his request rejected.

    Contemporary Versions of Cheeseburgers

    Popular contemporary versions of this classic food include the fried and smashed patty - a burger type that probably originated in the 1930s, around the same time as the popular cheeseburger. These burgers are always cooked well done, and served with all the fixings. Bar burgers showed up on the American scene a few decades later on, and are cooked to order of rawness, along with a customizable roster of cheeses or toppings. And finally, gourmet burgers are like bar burgers with upscale and unusual toppings, and high quality buns.  

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