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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

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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

There was a time when every other girl was named Ashley. That time has ended.

As we know, baby name trends are constantly changing. One generation’s Barbara is another generation’s Bethany. But it doesn’t make it any less odd when you suddenly realize that your very own name has suddenly made it into the “old and unhip” pile. And for many of us 80s babies…that time is now.

In a now-viral TikTok post, baby name consultant Colleen Slagen went through the top 100 girl names from 1986 to find which ones “did not age well” and were no longer ranked top 1,000 today. Such a descent from popularity would mark them as what she calls “timestamp names.”

Spoiler alert: what might be even more surprising than the names now considered old school are the names that are still going strong.


The first name that Slagen says is “officially out” is Heather. That’s right, not even cult movie fame could help it keep its ranking.

via GIPHY

Other extinct names include Erica, Courtney, Lindsay, Tara, Crystal, Shannon, Brandy and Dana. Tiffany, Brittany and Casey are also heading very much in that direction.

“My name is Brandy. The Gen Z hostess at Olive Garden told me that she’d never heard my name before and it was so unique,” one viewer wrote.

However, Andrea ranks “surprisingly high,” and Jessica, Ashley and Stephanie have survived…so far.

Gobsmacked, one person asked “How is Stephanie still in there? I don’t think I’ve met a Stephanie younger than myself at 34.”

But the biggest holdout still belongs to Jennifer. “She was a top 100 name all the way up until 2008. Round of applause for Jennifer,” Slagen says in the clip.

@namingbebe Sorry Lindsay, Heather, and Courtney. #babynames #nametok #nameconsultant #girlnames #80skid #1986 #nametrend ♬ original sound - Colleen

If your name has found its way into relic of a bygone era status, fret not. Slagen, whose name also ranks out of the top 1000, assures it just means “we are creatures of the 80's.”

Of course, while we still have baby names that become incredibly common for extended periods of time (looking at you, little Liam and Olivia), the real contemporary trend is going for uniqueness. As an article in The Atlantic notes, for most of American history families tended to name their children after a previous family member, with the goal of blending in, rather than standing out. But now, things have changed.

Laura Wattenberg, the founder of Namerology, told the outlet that “Parents are thinking about naming kids more like how companies think about naming products, which is a kind of competitive marketplace where you need to be able to get attention to succeed.”

But again, even with a keen eye on individualism, patterns pop up. “The same thing we see in fashion trend cycles, we see in names,” Jessie Paquette, another professional baby namer, told Vox. “We’re seeing Eleanor, Maude, Edith—cool-girl grandma names.”

So who knows…give it time (or maybe just a pop song) and one of these 80s names could make a comeback.

Rodney Smith Jr. mowing a lawn in West Covina, California

Rodney Smith Jr., of Huntsville, Alabama, was recently profiled by KMBC for his generous donation to two 11-year-olds who fulfilled his 50 Yard Challenge in Gadsden, Alabama. Ja’Torrian Taylor and Tevin Rice, founders of TJ & JT Mowing Service, completed Smith’s challenge to mow 50 yards for the elderly, veterans, and people unable to care for their lawns for free.

"I’m heading down to Gadsden right now. These are good, hard-working kids that deserve some gratitude," Smith, known as "The Lawnmower Man," told KMBC. Smith had been told that Taylor and Rice were sharing an old lawnmower that a neighbor had donated to them.

When he arrived, he gave both teens a mower, a blower and a trimmer for their hard work, hoping they’ll use their new equipment to expand their business. "Giving these boys lawn equipment is teaching them discipline," Smith said. "If they tell someone they are going to mow a lawn, they need to mow the lawn."

"Remember, this is not the end; it’s just the beginning," Smith added. "This could be the beginning of a successful lawn service."

Smith’s commitment to taking care of people’s lawns started in 2015, and the following year he went viral for helping a 93-year-old woman who could no longer mow hers. The photo of Smith and the woman received over 1 million likes.

Five years ago, Upworthy profiled Smith for setting a bold goal of mowing lawns for free in all 50 states. His goal was to promote his initiative that "provides free lawn care to our elders, those who are disabled, single mothers, and our veterans, who do not have the time, resources, and/or money to manicure their yards."

As part of this goal, he created the 50 Yard Challenge, which has been a smashing success.

As of May 2023, 4,588 pre-teens and teens are participating in this challenge across the United States. If everyone completes the challenge, that will bring the total number of lawns mowed for free by Smith’s Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service to 229,400.

Kids and teens can take part in the challenge by sending them a photo holding up a sign that says, “I accept the 50 Yard Challenge,” and in return, they’ll receive a white Raising Men/Women shirt along with shades and ear protection to get started. For every 10 lawns cut, they will get a new color shirt.

• 10 lawns earn an orange shirt

• 20 lawns earn a green shirt

• 30 lawns earn a blue shirt

• 40 lawns earn a red shirt

• 50 lawns earn a black shirt

After completing the challenge, the child or teen will receive a mower, a blower, and a trimmer, just like Ja’Torrian Taylor and Tevin Rice from Alabama.

Smith’s story is an incredible example of how one good deed from a kind-hearted person can lead to an outpouring of kindness across the country. It also teaches young people the values of giving back and self-discipline as well as the entrepreneurial spirit.

Learn more about Smith’s nonprofit and donate at Weareraisingmen.com.


This article originally appeared on 6.23.23

Mel Robinson making a TED Talk.

Towards the end of The Beatles’ illustrious but brief career, Paul McCartney wrote “Let it Be,” a song about finding peace by letting events take their natural course. It was a sentiment that seemed to mirror the feeling of resignation the band had with its imminent demise.

The bittersweet song has had an appeal that has lasted generations and that may be because it reflects an essential psychological concept: the locus of control.

“It’s about understanding where our influence ends and accepting that some things are beyond our control,” Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist, told The Huffington Post. “We can’t control others, so instead, we should focus on our own actions and responses.”


This idea of giving up control, or the illusion of it, when it does us no good, was perfectly distilled into 2 words that everyone can understand as the “Let Them” theory. Podcast host, author, motivational speaker and former lawyer Mel Robbins explained this theory perfectly in a vial Instagram video.

“I just heard about this thing called the ‘Let Them Theory,’ I freaking love this,” Robbins starts the video.

“If your friends are not inviting you out to brunch this weekend, let them. If the person that you're really attracted to is not interested in a commitment, let them. If your kids do not want to get up and go to that thing with you this week, let them.” Robbins says in the clip. “So much time and energy is wasted on forcing other people to match our expectations.”

“If they’re not showing up how you want them to show up, do not try to force them to change; let them be themselves because they are revealing who they are to you. Just let them – and then you get to choose what you do next,” she continued.

The phrase is a great one to keep in your mental health tool kit because it’s a reminder that, for the most part, we can’t control other people. And if we can, is it worth wasting the emotional energy? Especially when we can allow people to behave as they wish and then we can react to them however we choose.

Stop wasting energy on trying to get other people to meet YOUR expectations. Instead, try using the “Let Them Theory.” 

@melrobbins

Stop wasting energy on trying to get other people to meet YOUR expectations. Instead, try using the “Let Them Theory.” 💥 Listen now on the #melrobbinspodcast!! “The “Let Them Theory”: A Life Changing Mindset Hack That 15 Million People Can’t Stop Talking About” 🔗 in bio #melrobbins #letthemtheory #letgo #lettinggo #podcast #podcastepisode

How you respond to their behavior can significantly impact how they treat you in the future.

It’s also incredibly freeing to relieve yourself of the responsibility of changing people or feeling responsible for their actions. As the old Polish proverb goes, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

“Yes! It’s much like a concept propelled by the book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k.’ Save your energy and set your boundaries accordingly. It’s realizing that we only have “control” over ourselves and it’s so freeing,” 60DaysToLive2012 wrote.

“Let It Be” brought Paul McCartney solace as he dealt with losing his band in a very public breakup. The same state of mind can help all of us, whether it’s dealing with parents living in the past, friends who change and you don’t feel like you know them anymore, or someone who cuts you off in traffic because they’re in a huge rush to go who knows where.

The moment someone gets on your nerves and you feel a jolt of anxiety run up your back, take a big breath and say, “Let them.”


This article originally appeared on 3.4.24

www.youtube.com

British high schoolers try southern food for the first time

Southern food is beloved by many, and those of us raised on it just consider it dinner, not a special cuisine. But since Southern food is pretty geographical, there are plenty of Americans who haven't had the opportunity to try authentic Southern food. There are a few soul food restaurants that get it right sprinkled across the country, but all are not created equal.

Since Southern cooking isn't available throughout all of America, it shouldn't be a surprise that it's not a staple across the pond. Josh Carrott, author of "Once Upon A Time in Carrottland," runs the YouTube channel Jolly, where he has people try new foods. He decided to invite a group of British schoolboys to try a few Southern staples. The boys are in year 9 in England, which means they're between the ages of 13 and 14.

Since Carrott isn't Southern, or even American for that matter, I can't say how the food was prepared. What I can say is that my very Southern grandmother would give the sausage gravy preparation the side eye, but other than that, it looked as authentic as possible.


The boys were served biscuits that were perfectly golden, and there was immediate confusion. Apparently biscuits are flat and hard in England, so the boys were sure they were being served scones. It only took one bite for them to come around to the idea of the buttery fluffy delight that is the Southern biscuit. But the taste test for the biscuits wasn't over—Carrott mixed up some white sausage gravy and smothered the delicious bread.

None of the boys were eager to try a meal that many Southern households eat regularly.

"Let's call it interesting for now. I'm not going to make a judgment," one boy says.

"It looks like a chopped-up ferret," another lamented.

To be fair, if you've never seen biscuits and gravy, it doesn't look instantly appealing, but once you try it, the dish suddenly looks amazing every time you encounter it moving forward. Maybe it isn't everyone's favorite thing, but being able to drive through a Whataburger and grab it to go brings me childlike joy.

After trying everything offered, all of the boys agreed that the Southern food was delicious, including the sweet tea. Several of them said they preferred it over their British hot tea—no one tell their parents. It feels like it would be as shocking as finding a Southerner who prefers unsweet tea. You can watch the entire video below.

This article originally appeared on 6.22.23

Sergio Reis/Youtube

Odds are you’ve heard Wally de Backer, aka Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

It’s the Australian musician’s biggest commercial hit, selling more than 20 million copies since its release in 2011, making it one of the best-selling digital singles of all time. Not to mention it inspired several amazing covers, which you might have also stumbled upon.

The music video, in its poignant simplicity, is every bit as iconic.

Gotye stands naked facing the camera, as featured singer Kimbra faces him. As they sing, they are slowly “painted” into and out of the background of geometric shapes using stop motion animation. There’s a very Wes Anderson feel to it that adds so much to the story told in the song, making it all the more memorable.

All this to say…it would be a challenge to recreate the magic that’s so inherent in the original. And yet, one dance company has clearly understood the assignment.


All this to say…it would be a challenge to recreate the magic that’s so inherent in the original. And yet, one dance company has clearly understood the assignment.

Netherland based dance troupe CDK recently went viral for their highly stylized movement performance to the well known art pop ballad.

As thousands of viewers were quick to note, it’s not just the incredible dance moves that make this performance so captivating. It’s a killer combination of choreography, camerawork and costumes that make the piece impossible to turn away from.

“This is pure art,” one person wrote. While another added, “I think I’m going to watch it everyday for the rest of my life.”

Take a look for yourself:

CDK - Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

This group is clearly at the top of their game, by how easy they make it all look (like, I've already convinced myself that I can pull off those moves). But what’s more evident is that they enjoy what they’re doing to the nth degree.

To find even more of CDK's performances, follow them on Instagram.

Fun fact #1: Gotye allows small independent projects, like student films—and probably this dance piece—to use his music free of charge. "If someone wants to use it commercially I look at what the budget is and the creativity of the project," he said, according to News.com.

Fun fact #2: CDK isn't the only group to have recently breathed new life into the song. A few weeks ago, an electronic remix of the song titled "Somebody (2024)," created by electronic music producers Chris Lake, Fisher, and Sante Sansone, debuted. Much like it's predecessor, "Somebody (2024) is topping the charts.


This article originally appeared on 3.6.24