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Education

Turns out, the hamburger is as rich in history as it is in flavor

Savor these juicy facts about one of the world's most iconic foods.

history, food, hamburger, inventors, community
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Delicious history.

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It's something so simple, yet something so good — two tasty buns around mouthwatering meat.

Yes, it's true: Hamburgers are wonderful. But what exactly makes them so wonderful? With so many parts and so many variations, it’s hard to know precisely why this dietary delight has become such an iconic part of our culture.

Over the centuries — yes, centuries — the hamburger has evolved from an umami underdog to a ubiquitous food staple all across the globe. And at the center of that strange journey is some surprising insight into humanity itself (and also a tasty meat patty).

Here are seven fascinating facts from across the years and continents that will make you appreciate the burger for more than just its taste.


1. The hamburger was invented in New Haven, Connecticut.

It was 1900 when Danish immigrant Louis Lassen first took the trimmings from his trademark steak sandwiches (which he also helped pioneer), packed them into patties, and placed them between two slices of toast from his sandwich wagon. The family still runs Louis’ Lunch Shop on Crown Street today and still serves the sandwiches on toast with no option for ketchup.

As someone who was born and raised in New Haven, I can assure you that this is 100% unequivocal truth. Even the U.S. Library of Congress has it on record!

sandwich, trademark, mobile food, health

Louis Lassen stands at the counter of the Lunch Wagon in New Haven, Connecticut.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

2. Unless it was not invented in New Haven at all.

Perhaps it was Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas, that actually invented it. He supposedly started cookin’ up those patties in the late 1880s, then brought his treat to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, where it gained global attention.

Or it could have been Charles and Frank Menches of Hamburg, New York, who ran out of sausage at a fair in 1885, so they packed together ground beef with coffee, brown sugar, and other brown spices to mask what was otherwise considered “lower class” meat.

Some people even give credit to Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin, who began serving flattened meatballs on bread in 1885, even though that’s pretty clearly a “meatball sandwich” and not a “hamburger.”

Maybe it all began at root beer-maker Oscar Weber Bilby’s Fourth of July party in 1891, right in Oklahoma — the heartland of America.

As you can see, there's some question as to which of the 50 states can actually claim credit for this distinctly American delicacy. Unfortunately, people didn’t keep very clear records of these things back then, so it’s kind of hard to determine which one was the real pioneer.

national landmarks, state law, America, culinary

A large statue commemorates the lover for a burger.

Photo (cropped) by WIMHARTER/Wikimedia Commons.

3. But we do know that the first record of a hamburger-like recipe was from 1758.

"The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy" by Hannah Glasse — the most popular cookbook in England for more than a century — was well-known in the American colonies too.

The cookbook was updated many times after its initial publication in 1747, but it was the 1758 edition that first made mention of a “hamburg sausage” — a combination of ground beef and spices that was cured and then served roasted on a single piece of toast.

recipe, hamburgers, history, documents

Everybody benefits with a cookbook.

Image (cropped) via W. Wangford/Wikimedia Commons.

4. The hamburg sausage wan't quite a sandwich. But neither was the "hamburg steak," another cousin of the burger.

Obviously, the question of “what defines a sandwich” has resulted in much debate. But one thing we can all agree on is that it requires some kind of casing in order to qualify as a “sandwich” ... right?

While Glasse’s hamburg sausage could have arguably been an open-faced sandwich, the popular hamburg steak was definitely not a sandwich. The German dish gained popularity in the 18th century and comprised of, um, well, a patty of ground beef packed together — sometimes with spices or onions or egg — and then cooked and served. Which, come to think of it, does sound a lot like a hamburger without the bun.

(Some would argue that a hamburger without a bun is not technically a hamburger, but that's a philosophical discussion for another time.)

middle east, cuisine, world views, studies

That doesn't look like the burgers I know.

Photo (cropped) by 1971Marcus/Wikimedia Commons.

5. Come to think of it, no one’s really sure who invented the sandwich either.

This may not sound like an important part of hamburger history, but bear with me. You’ll see how it connects.

Credit often goes to John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who allegedly needed some way to contain his food so that he could continue playing cards with his friends without making a mess or needing utensils.

But he was hardly the first to think of such a thing — Hillel the Elder was known for eating flatbread sandwiches as far back as the first century, and of course, many Middle Eastern and Eurasian cultures made use of the pita to contain all kinds of tasty treats, including — wait for it — minced meats.

Now do you see where this is going?

art, food, historical data, research, marketing

There are many components to this flatbread burger.

Image via Pixabay.

6. That’s right: The hamburger goes all the way back to Genghis Khan. (Sort of.)

Look, there’s a lot of world to conquer, OK? And when you were part of Khan’s Golden Horde, you didn’t have a lot of time to stop and eat between invading 2/3 of the planet. Khan’s soldiers would sometimes stay on horseback for days at a time, which wasn’t really conducive to eating soup either.

They found a way around the problem by thinly slicing meat and packing it together into portable patties that could be taken on the road and eaten as needed. Sometimes they were boiled, sometimes cured ahead of time, and more often than not, they were just eaten raw (but, contrary to popular belief, they were not placed under their saddles and cooked by butt-heat friction).

historical figures, art, Mongolia, war

A statue for the likeness of the historical Genhis Khan.

Image from Pixabay.

In one part of the world, this minced meat may have evolved into kebabs, which of course were then contained in the aforementioned pitas. Genghis’s grandson Kublai Khan is believed to have passed this raw meaty snack on to the Russians, who called it “steak tartare,” reportedly after their name for the Turco-Mongol peoples.

It would only be a matter of time before Russians shared the recipe with Germans, who gave it a twist of their own and turned it into hamburg steaks.

7. But the absolute oldest reference to a burger-like food comes from fourth-century Rome.

The ancient Roman Empire contributed a great many things to the modern world — including, believe it or not, fast food in the form of the ready-to-go thermopholia markets (literally “a place where something hot is sold”). According to a fourth-century cookbook, some of these thermopholia sold a packed patty known as Isica Omentata, which was made from minced meat, pine nuts, fish sauce, wine, and other spices. You can even find some modernized recipes and make your own Roman patties the next time you’re in the mood for a gladiator match!

cookbooks, Roman Empire, history, nutrition

The Roman Empire created some unique architecture.

Photo by Jebulon/Wikimedia Commons.

The hamburger’s globe-trotting history shows us exactly why people around the world love those meaty buns.

(Besides the fact they’re delicious, I mean.)

The real power of the burger is much more primal than that. Bread and meat are dietary staples of every culture since pretty much the dawn of civilization as we know it. It only makes sense to bring them together in such a simple way. And as technologies continued to evolve, of course we’d use them to perfect this quintessential combination, which would, in turn, give rise to the modern burger as we know it.

sculpture, diets, fast food, farming

A representation of a hamburger with cheese.

Image via Pixabay.

That’s why the hamburger’s winding journey from Rome to Mongolia to Russia to Germany and, finally, to the United States is such a telling story: It shows how separate cultures have so much in common across time and space. In that regard, it almost doesn't matter who was first to slap that patty on a bun or what inspired them do it — because the impulse was intrinsically human. Which means, yes, the hamburger has the power to unite us all, no matter where we come from, like one big global barbecue.

But also, they're delicious.

This article originally appeared on 03.22.18

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Science

Americans see gardening changes as 'plant hardiness zones' shift across half the U.S.

Here's a quick tool to find out if your zone has changed due to warmer temperatures.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash, Map by USDA-ARS and Oregon State University (Public Domain)

The USDA has issued a new Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Millions of American households have a garden of some sort, whether they grow vegetables, fruits flowers or other plants. Gardening has always been a popular hobby, but more Americans turned to tending plants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for both stress relief and to grow their own food so they could make less trips to the store. For many people, it's a seasonal ritual that's therapeutic and rewarding.

But a shift is occurring in the gardening world. Now, due to rising temperature data, half the country find themselves in a different "plant hardiness zone"—the zones that indicate what plants work well in an area and when to plant them. Gardeners rely on knowing their hardiness zone to determine what to plant and when, but they haven't been updated since 2012.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map in late 2023, months before people in most of the country start planning their planting. We saw the 10 hottest summers ever recorded in 174 years of climate data between 2014 and 2023, but hardiness zones are actually determined by the coldest winter temperatures each year. Winters are warming at an even faster pace than summers, according to nonpartisan research and communications group Climate Central, but that may or may not be the entire reason behind the zone changes.

The USDA acknowledges that some of the zone shifts could be due to climate change but cautions against using them as hard evidence for it since factors such as improved data collection also contribute to changes in the map.

people planting flowers

Gardening can be a solo or community endeavor.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

"Temperature updates to plant hardiness zones are not necessarily reflective of global climate change because of the highly variable nature of the extreme minimum temperature of the year, as well as the use of increasingly sophisticated mapping methods and the inclusion of data from more weather stations," the USDA wrote in November 2023. "Consequently, map developers involved in the project cautioned against attributing temperature updates made to some zones as reliable and accurate indicators of global climate change (which is usually based on trends in overall average temperatures recorded over long time periods)."

At the same time, Chris Daly, director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University that developed the map with the USDA, told NPR, "Over the long run, we will expect to see a slow shifting northward of zones as climate change takes hold."

As an example of zone shifting, Dallas, Texas, was classified as Zone 8a in 2012, when data showed the coldest winter temperature in the city was between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit on average. In 2023, with data showing the coldest winter temps falling between 15 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's been shifted to Zone 8b.

Some zone shifts resulted in moving to an entirely new zone number, such as Seattle shifting from Zone 8b to Zone 9a. The overall trend was for zones to be pushed northward, but not all areas saw a shift. NPR has a helpful tool here in which you can enter your zip code, see what zone your city was previously in, what zone it's in now, and the temperature changes that caused the shift.

The bottom line is if you have a gardening book with a hardiness zones map printed before 2024, it's time for an updated map. Or check online to see what zone you fall in now to give your garden the best chance of thriving this year.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

checking your car might be easier than you think.

Buying a used car is often the more sustainable and financially sound choice, but it does have its inherent risks. Even purchasing from a dealership doesn’t guarantee quality, or safety. NBC News previously reported that some “certified” pre-owned vehicles which had passed auto retailer AutoNation’s “precise inspection process” had unresolved recalls.

Bottom line: you don’t truly know how well the vehicle was taken care of. However, there are certain precautions we can take to ensure our investment is a wise one.

A man who goes by “Jackson The Mekanic” recently posted a now-viral video explaining the “three musts” that you need to check before pulling the trigger on a car purchase. Great news—all these things are easy to check, even without mechanic supervision.


1. Oil Level

"First, you pull out the dipstick," Jackson explains as he shows where to find it under the hood.

“It's very important to wipe it with a rag first, then re-insert the dipstick back in." After you pull it out again, you want to make sure the oil makes it to the “full” line. Also, make sure the car is off when you check.

@mekanic_jackson

3 simple checks

♬ original sound - Jackson The Mekanic
2. Coolant Level

Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is a liquid that keeps a car's engine from overheating by transferring heat and preventing it from freezing or boiling. In the comments Jackson says that this is an important thing to check because low levels can indicate a leak.

To check coolant levels, Jackson says "There's two ways you can do this, you can check it directly from the radiator, or you can check it from the overflow tank."

To check from the radiator, you’ll need to lift open the cap, but keep in mind that you’ll need to wait until after the engine has cooled down to do so.

If the car is low on coolant, Jackson recommends you simply add a little water.

3. Brake Fluid Level

Jackson might have saved the most important for last.

"What you're looking [for] here is for color and for the level, so we can see this color looks nice and new, and is also topped up to the max,” he says while pointing to a full brake fluid tank.

For many of us, car upkeep can be overwhelming. But it’s a necessary skill, at least if you don’t rely on public transportation to get you everywhere you need to be. And certain aspects aren’t all that difficult to understand once we really pop open the hood and see what’s inside. And expert explanations like the ones Jackson offers certainly help.

If you’re looking for more of his advice—like how to replace a car battery, which cars to avoid to save money and diagnosing engine noises —follow Jackson on TikTok.

Joy

Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.


The volunteer slowly entered the kennel with the terrified dog, crouching on his knees for an easy escape if needed. But the dog attempted to essentially become invisible by avoiding eye contact and staying curled in a tiny ball. It seemed like it was going to take a long time for this nervous pup to warm up.

Before long, he's offered a treat. Success! The brown dog takes the treat, and as minutes pass you can see his body slowly relax, eventually coming to sit directly next to Kanaka for pets. In the few minutes of the video, you see such an amazing transformation that proves this little guy just needed some love.

"It was so cute when he started wagging his tail. You could tell his whole demeanor just changed, and he was happy. Just a few kind words and a little attention. That’s all animals need. Well, besides food. Lol," one commenter says.

"That moment when he starts to realize he's actually safe. That gradual tail wag, and the ears perking, the eyes lighting up. You don't have to be an expert to show an animal love and respect," another writes.

"After that first treat his entire demeanor changed. He went from not trusting you to thinking you may be kind and he could feel less stressed. That was really amazing to see," someone gushes.

This sweet scared dog just needed human connection by someone taking the time to sit with him to know he was safe. Once he was sure the shelter was a safe place, the dog even welcomed those who came to visit him after seeing the video.

"I went to the shelter today to visit 'Bear'! Everyone would be thrilled to hear that he seems very happy and energetic! He has a little red squeaky bone toy that he loves. He licked my hand immediately and rubbed his head on my legs and arms, eager for affection. What a sweetheart," a commenter writes.

Thanks to Kanaka's sweet gesture, the dog, now named Shadow Moon, was adopted and is now living his best life with his new human dad and husky brother. You can follow Shadow Moon's journey on his Instagram page.


This article originally appeared on 12.1.23

Science

Artist creates amazing inflatable shower curtain to help save water

If you take long showers you’re in for a rude awakening.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

Singing in the shower.

Are you the type of person who is always waiting on someone in the shower, or are you the one holding everyone up with your epic shower songs? Either way, Elisabeth Buecher has the perfect shower curtain for you. The London-based artist created an inflatable shower curtain that fills soft spikes with air if the shower is on too long. After four minutes of running water, a sensor on the tap triggers an inflator for the spikes, and the bather is immediately reminded that it's time to get out.

Buecher created the installation to raise awareness about water conservation.


"They aim at provoking a debate around water issues and making people more aware of their consumption," the artist said on her website.

Check out the steps from peaceful showering to an alarming wake-up call below.

bathroom, saving water, room design

Getting the hair wet.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

artist, environmentalist, going green

My other chosen career.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

Inflatable shower curtain in dramatic action.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

protection, responsibility, guardianship

The shower curtain has won.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com


This article originally appeared on 09.23.17


Asexuality is often misunderstood.

In general, it's believed to be the absence of any romantic interest, but asexual identity actually means that a person is not sexually attracted to anyone. Romantic feelings and the strength of those feelings can vary from person to person.

Currently, about 1% of adults have no interest in sex, though some experts believe that number could be higher. For a long time, information on asexuality was limited, but researchers recently have found information that gives us more knowledge about asexuality.

Being asexual can be tough, though — just ask the artists from Empathize This.

To demonstrate, they put together a comic on asexuality, defining it as a sexual orientation, not a dysfunction:


This article originally appeared on 5.16.16