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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hamburger Cited

In the U. S. A., The origin of the word "hamburger" is believed to have been first cited on January 5, 1889. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it first appeared in print in a Walla Walla, Washington, newspaper. Yes, the same place those sweet delectable Walla Walla onions come from.

The term Hamburger steak first appeared in the January 5, 1889 edition of the Walla Walla (Washington) Union. The steak was soon dropped...source

Lila Perl, author of more than 6 cookbooks, including Flannel Hash and Shoo-Fly Pie: American Regional Foods and Festivals also authored The Hamburger Book (c) 1974. Here are her thoughts on the "first" hamburger.

We have no archeological evidence telling us when the first hamburger was eaten or where. It is almost certainty, however, that the first hamburger was eaten raw. Stone age peoples, having no metal tools, sometimes chose to scape away at large chunks of raw meat with sharpened, chipped stones. The small particles they collected were easier to chew than gnawing directly on large, tough slabs of raw flesh.

Many believe that the hamburger, as we know it, had its beginning with J. Wellington Wimpy. You must recall his mumble jumble.

"I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Okay, so perhaps Wimpy joining the Popeye comic strip in 1931, didn't popularize the hamburger like the Tartars did thrashing through Russia but, what Popeye did for spinach, the cartoon character Wimpy did for hamburgers. Wimpy loved to eat hamburgers, didn't like paying for them and certainly raised enough curiosity to spawn a successful chain of hamburger restaurants called Wimpy's. Wimpy's restaurant chain was founded by Eddie Gold in the 1930s. Don't quote me, but I think he started it in Chicago. Anyway, back to Wimpy. To this day, when someone mentions Wimpy (which thank goodness doesn't happen often) I think of hamburgers. Personally, I'm not much of a hamburger connoisseur. Heaven forbid, I don't really like hamburgers. I can count how many times I have ever been to a McDonald's, Burger King or even Wendy's. If I had to choose my favorite fast food hamburger "joint", it would have to be White Castle. Although, Wendy's receives many kudos from my grandchildren. Thinking about a White Castle hamburger doesn't really do much for me. Thinking about all those times I spent in Brooklyn as a youngster hanging around White Castle with my older Brooklyn cousins, can and has brought me to tears. Have I told you, I LOVE Brooklyn!

I think I'll pass on the hamburger talk for now. May is National Hamburger Month and probably a better time to ignite those fires for Memorial Day. I will leave you with a recipe from The Hamburger Book and of course, something to ponder...

...human-kind's love of hamburgers began when we were not humans at all, but a 5-foot-tall pseudo-human called Australopithicus, who, quite by accident, discovered the wonderfulness of cooked meat when either lightning or a spark from the friction of stone tools ignited dry grass and seared freshly killed bison. Jeffrey Tennyson in his book "Hamburger Heaven: The Illustrated History of the Hamburger"

I'll leave you with this recipe and closing from The Hamburger Book

The hamburger story has now come full circle, from the very "first" hamburger eaten raw in a savage landscape four million years ago by a composite ape-man, to the sophisticated grilled hamburger you cook for your lunch today or bought at your neighborhood fast-food hamburger stand
Quarter Pound Hamburgers
1 pound hamburger
3 tbs. dried onion soup mix
1-1/2 tbs. butter or margarine
1-1/2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
4 hamburger buns split
soft butter or margarine
Blend hamburger and onion soup mix thoroughly and shape into four thick patties, about 4 inches in diameter.

In a 10 inch skillet, heat butter and Worcestershire Sauce to sizzling. Add hamburgers and fry until well-browned and slightly crusty on bottom. Turn, lower heat slighly, and cook on other side until browned and of desired doneness in center written before current safety concerns

Prepare buns by toasting them and top burgers with catsup and pickle slices if desired.

And when did that tantalizing phrase "Where's the Beef?" make its debut? January 10, 1984.

Resources

  • 1. History of Hamburgers @ What's Cooking America
  • 2. Walla Walla Time
  • 3. Walla Walla Sweet Onion Recipe Center
  • 4. Do You Remember the Days of Juicy Hamburgers?
  • 5. White Castle (article)
  • 6. Ronald Reagan's Hamburger Soup (It's also National Soup Month)
  • 7.Worcestershire Sauce Discovered?
  • 8. McDonald's Debut

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