Since the beginning of time, every great invention has been marred in controversy. Are you in the camp that feels Marconi invented the radio or do you passionately believe that Nikola Tesla was the true mastermind behind this communication marvel that all of use on a daily basis? Are you from the John Lennon camp that believes the majority of Beatles songs written with his partner, Sir Paul McCartney, were more of his construction, or do you know in your bones that McCartney was the true genius behind some of the most timeless songs in history? Was the telephone conceived by Alexander Graham Bell or was it stolen from a concept by Johann Phillip Reis? Did Frederick Albert Cook make it to the North Pole first or was it Naval engineer Robert Peary? Does anyone really care?
Maybe not, but we should. True credit should be given to these pioneers, the real inventors, creators and discovers who, in a moment of inspiration, brought the world something special. Something that we’ve all taken for granted, such as catchy pop songs or the device we hear them through. What about food? Is there any meal we take more for granted than the All American Hamburger? Can we even be sure the hamburger is an American invention at all?
Let’s roll up our sleeves and take a look at the anemic amount of facts we even have about the origin of this sandwich. Once all of the data, urban legend and distant recollections of those who claimed there were their for the genesis of this tasty meal has been presented, you can come to your own conclusions in regards to The Great Hamburger Controversy.
The Year: 1200 or so. Genghis Khan supposedly fed his armies meat and bread, eaten hurriedly together as the Mongols warriors moved into Russia.
The Year: 1763. Author Hannah Glasse wrote in a cookbook about Hamburgh Sausage, minced meat served on toast.
The Year :1897. Dr. James Salisbury invents a steak dish sold to the public for breakfast, often included on a hard roll. The Salisbury Steak became so popular it advanced up the meal chain into a common dinner dish.
The Year: 1885. Fifteen year old entrepreneur Charlie Nagree operating a food stand at the Outagamie County Fair in Wisconsin realized he would sell more product if his client’s could take their beef to go, walking through the fairgrounds while enjoying their meal. He called his Hamburg Steak sandwiches “Hamburger Charlies”.
The Year: 1880. Athens, Texas cook Fletcher Davis sold several meat sandwiches with his wife from a cafe on Tyler Street.
The Year: 1885. The same year Charlie Nagree was peddling his Hamburger Charlies in Wisconsin, brothers Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio were selling ground beef sandwiches at the Erie County Fair. They claimed the term “Hamburger” originated from the town Hamburg located in New York state.
Interesting, isn’t it? Who really was responsible for the invention of this delicacy we’ve all come to know and love? Chances are you may be asking yourself, “Does it really matter?” Well, maybe not, it’s not like we’re pondering the meaning of life here, but I live and breathe hamburgers, and hot dogs, and pretty much each of the well known All American Foods. It’s important to me as the proprietor of BnD’z. I can’t answer the question as to who should get credit. I really don’t think any of us will ever know. But if I could go back in time and meet that individual, I would love to shake his hand…..unless burgers really were invented by Genghis Khan, then I’d have to make sure he was in a really good mood first!