“Mystery between two buns” – The origin stories behind the Hamburger


Simple ideas often have complicated origins, this is one of those stories.

by Alexander Quebec

In-N-Out is one of California’s well known and popular hamburger chains, and many other restaurants selling burgers have also gotten their start in California. While the cheeseburger, more or less, might have gotten it’s start from California, the hamburger has less unclear origins on it’s creation. We here at CaliPlate enjoy reading and researching the stories behind the food we eat, and so, I present to you the possible back stories behind the burgers. Read all of them and see what you think.
Louis Lassen – 1900

Louis Lunch
Louis Lunch

Lassen owned Louis Lunch, a small lunch wagon in New Haven, Connecticut. The stand is just one of many places where the Hamburger is said to have originated. Originally a beef sandwich with no name, it was then given it’s name from some rowdy sailors who happened to have come from Hamburg, New York. The Library of Congress actually credits Lassen as being the original creator of the Hamburger. Louis Lunch is still in operation to this day.



Charles Nagreen "Hamburger Charlie" seymourhistory.org
Charles Nagreen “Hamburger Charlie”

Charlie Nagreen -1885
In 1885, Charlie Nagreen was only 15 when he  sold a sandwich consisting of a smashed meatball between two slices of bread at the Seymour County Fair in Wisconsin. He named the creation after the Hamburger steak, which many of the German immigrants were familiar with. He kept up the tradition of selling at the Seymour county fair until his death in 1951.

Otto Kause – 1891
This story originated with the White Castle Chain, in 1891, Kause created a dish which consisted of a beef patty fried in butter, topped with a fried egg. German sailors would later omit the egg.

Oscar Weber Bilby – 1891
Serving a beef patty on his wife’s homemade buns during a 4th of July party at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Bilby is sometimes credited as creating the first true hamburger, due to the use of a bun rather than two pieces of regular bread, in 1891.

Frank and Charles Menches menchesbros.net
Frank and Charles Menches menchesbros.net

Frank and Charles Menches – 1892
The Menches brothers of Ohio originally came up with the idea after running out of pork sausages during the Eire County Fair (which was known as the Buffalo county fair in those days). They named the Sandwich after the town they resided in at the time: Hamburg, New York.

Fletcher Davis – 1904
Davis and his wife Ciddy of Athens, Texas served a sandwich consisting of fried beef, mustard, and a slice of Bermuda onion between two slices of bread. In 1904, they reportedly sold their creation to fair goers out of a sandwich stand during the St. Louis World Exhibition.

White Castle (First restaurant chain to serve them exclusively)


In 1921, the first White Castle opened in Wichita, Kansas. To date, they are the oldest hamburger chain restaurant in existence, surpassing McDonald’s, which opened up in the 1940’s. Today, the privately owned company has many of its restaurants open on the East Coast (Another fun fact: Despite originating from the state, there are no White Castles currently in operation in Kansas)



So folks, this just goes to show you that our most popular food items oftentimes have vague and ambiguous origins. That doesn’t diminish, however, our love for them, but it does make us realize that sometimes, great minds really do think alike.

Did we miss anything from this list? Are there any points of contention you’d like to make? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover photo: wallpaperscraft.com

(Visited 872 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *