It’s a fact: Americans eat a whole lot of burgers. But when you do the math, the sheer quantity of ground beef patties Americans consume every year is jaw-droppingly outrageous.
The burger traces its roots all the way back to the Mongol Empire, where their tradition of mincing horsemeat was passed onto the Russians, who in turn brought it to the major port of Hamburg, Germany, in the early nineteenth century. The most common destination for ships departing from Hamburg was New York, and by the late 1800s restaurants in New York began serving what they called Hamburg steaks, seasoned and cooked patties of ground beef, to German immigrants. According to Josh Ozersky’s The Hamburger: A History, the oldest mention of a Hamburg steak on a menu was at New York’s Delmonico’s, a recipe developed by one of history’s greatest chefs, Charles Ranhofer.
The exact origin of the modern-day hamburger unfortunately remains a mystery, but there are several contenders. Perhaps the most well-known is Louis Lassen, who introduced a hamburger steak sandwich at his New Haven, Conn., restaurant Louis Lunch in 1900. Others claim that "Hamburger Charlie" Nagreen actually invented the dish at Wisconsin’s Outagamie County Fair in 1885, and still others claim that the Menches brothers did it at an 1885 fair in Hamburg, N.Y.
Regardless of whoever first applied ground meat to bread, today the burger is one of the most beloved, comforting foods in existence, and fast food chains have done a great job of capitalizing on that. McDonald’s is obviously the largest chain, with Burger King coming in second, and together they go through billions of pounds of ground beef every year.
Check out the slideshow above to learn 11 mind-blowing facts about burgers.