Thursday, March 4, 2021

Origins of the Hamburger: The Sandwich Appears (Part 2)

When did the Hamburger as we know it, a ground beef patty between two pieces of bread, originate? 

In Origins of the Hamburger (Part 1), I’ve already explored the early history, during the 1870s and 1880s, of Hamburg steak and the Hamburger. During this period, both terms referred to essentially the same dish, a serving of ground beef, with seasonings and onions, formed into a "cake." It wasn't yet a sandwich, even though it was sometimes referred to as a Hamburger. It was clear that the Hamburg steak was enjoyed all across the country, so it was known to many people. 

It wouldn’t be until the 1890s that we saw the first documented reference to a Hamburg sandwich, ground beef between two pieces of bread. Who invented that concept? In this article, I'll examine a couple of the alleged inventors of the Hamburger, noting that this is an area of much controversy, with numerous parties claiming to have invented it. In short, there’s little hard evidence to support these various claims, relying primarily on hearsay, or statements from the alleged inventors, statements made many years after the alleged date of invention. 

As I’ve said multiple times before, food origins stories often attain a mythical aspect, and the owners/inventors commonly assert their claims many years later. They lack definitive proof of their claims, and sometime their claims can even be proven to be inaccurate. It’s easy to make these claims many years later when it gets harder to disprove them. We shouldn't accept such claims as the truth unless we carefully analyze the evidence surrounding these claims. 


Initially, we’ll note that during the 1890s, Hamburg steak remained a popular breakfast dish, there were numerous ads for meat choppers to prepare this dish, and grocery stores started selling pounds of hamburg steak so consumers wouldn’t have to chop the beef at home. The use of the term “hamburger steaks” was also common.

The German origins rose again. The Chicago Tribune (IL), January 2, 1890, mentioned that: “There is a German restaurant on Madison street frequented by many downtown merchants who affect Hamburg steaks, wiener, schnitzels, Baum-Kuch, and other Teutonic delicacies.”

There’s an amusing origin story for Hamburg steak, one which appears to have no other supporting evidence besides this absurd assertion. The Atlanta Constitution (GA), January 19, 1890, wrote about Andrew Jackson Anderson, a train engineer who was born in Hamburg, South Carolina. He “… is the man who christened the Hamburg steak. In his younger days his boarding house had tough beef, and one day he took a steak, placed it upon a railroad track, and let a long freight train run over it. Then he had it cooked, and found it tender. A fellow boarder seeing the ease with which he masticated the meat asked, ‘Andy, what are you eating”’ “A Hamburg steak,’ he answered.” Definitely seems to be a tall tale.

Another Hamburg recipe. The Boston Globe, February 4, 1890, discussed a cooking class, held in the Apollo Hall, by Miss Parloa, where she described “How to Make Savory Hamburg Steaks.” The recipe stated: “Have the butcher chop two pounds of the round of beef very fine. Season it with half a teaspoonful of pepper, two teaspoonfuls of salt and one of onion juice, and, after shaping into thin cakes, place in a broiler that has been buttered slightly and broil over a clear fire for eight minutes. Serve on a hot dish.” 

As an alternative, she also stated: “Or put four slices of far salt pork into a frying pan. Remove when they have become crisp and brown. Put the steaks into the fat. Fry for eight (8) minutes, and when they are cooked put them on a warm platter. Into the fat remaining put a tablespoonful of flour, and simmer till brown. Then gradually add a cupful of water, season with salt and pepper, boil for three minutes. Pour the gravy over and serve at once.” Gravy was an option for Hamburg steaks which was seen occasionally during this time period. 

Miss Parloa also discussed some of the health aspects of the dish, continuing this topic which began during the prior two decades. “Frying makes the steak more savory, but more indigestible. A little onion or chives may be chopped and added to the meat with seasoning, if liked.” In addition, she said, “For an invalid, prepare according to the first rule, and broil or cook very slightly between two hot plates. The slice of steak may be scraped so as to take off the soft cellular tissue only, and not the fibres, and then seasoned and cooked as above.”

Eggs and Hamburg steaks. The Paxton Record (IL), June 19, 1890, citing an article from the Troy Times (and which was reprinted in a number of other newspapers), noted that “Hamburg steaks should be made from fresh, uncooked meat, but the left-overs from steaks and roasts may be chopped, moistened with uncooked eggs, seasoned, made into cakes and cooked the same as Hamburg steaks. In Hamburg steaks, the meat being uncooked, the albumen in the juices holds the meat together. The uncooked egg aided to the cooked meat answers the same purposes.” Again, we also see the word “cake” rather than “patty” being used.

The first use of bread with Hamburg? The Atchison Daily Patriot (KS), March 5, 1891, presented what may be the first documented mention of bread used with Hamburg, although it probably wasn’t a sandwich. There was a mention of a woman in Atchison, and that: “Her lunch consists of rye bread thickly smeared with Hamburg steak.” This appears to be just Hamburg steak that has been spread atop a piece of bread, like you might do with steak tartare. However, this is still a step towards the Hamburg sandwich. 

The New England Farmer (MA), March 10, 1894, hit on a couple common themes of Hamburg steak. First, it was noted: “Hamburg steak is a pleasant change for breakfast, but like sausages, hash and the like, you want to know what goes into it.” The article also mentioned, “”…if one has a meat chopper, pieces of the round or tough portions are much more appetizing served as Hamburg steaks, seasoned with salt and pepper and a few drops of onion juice, than if cooked in the ordinary way.”

Another recipe, but with catsup. The York Dispatch (PA), April 2, 1894, published this recipe: “Hamburg Steak. Take a pound of meat from the round, chop fine, add one teaspoonful of salt, two or three dishes of pepper; four drops of onion extract, one tablespoonful of chopped parsley, and, if desired, a very little thyme or sweet majoram. Mix well, form into small steaks with the hand. Melt a tablespoonful of butter in the frying pan; when heated put in the steaks, let them cook slowly until done half way through; turn over and cook equally on the other side." 

The article continued, with how to make a sauce for the Hamburg steak. "Make a brown sauce with the butter remaining in the pan as follows: The butter remaining will measure one tablespoonful and will, of course, be brown; add one tablespoonful of flour, stir until smooth and brown. Add one cup of stock; stir continually until it thickens. Take from the fire; add one teaspoonful of catsup; season with salt and pepper and serve with the steaks.” This is the first mention of catsup and Hamburg steak, although the catsup was added to the gravy rather than slathered on the Hamburg steak.

It wouldn’t be until 1894 that we finally saw documented mention of Hamburg sandwiches. Although the term Hamburger had been used since the 1870s, it had never referred to a sandwich during that time. It was simply another term for the Hamburg steak. In 1894, the phrase “Hamburger steak sandwich” started being used, and obviously referred to a Hamburg between two pieces of bread. This means that the creation of the Hamburger, ground beef between bread, had to have occurred before 1894.

As such, we can easily dismiss any claims of the invention of the Hamburger that allegedly occurred after 1894, as the Hamburger sandwich already existed by that point. Let’s examine the earliest mentions of the Hamburger sandwich to see if we can determine anything else.

The first reference was in the Shiner Gazette (TX), April 12, 1894, which briefly printed that, “Hamburger steak sandwiches everyday in the week at Barny’s saloon, Moulton.” A few days later, the Chicago Tribune (IL), April 15, 1894, published a story about the first “restaurant on wheels,” a “nocturnal sandwich wagon,” in Chicago which served “Hamburger steak sandwiches.” The Roanoke Times (VA), May 16, 1894, had an advertisement for The Concordia, which served “The Finest and Largest Glass of Beer in the City,” and their menu included a Hamburger Steak Sandwich.

Texas, Illinois, and Virginia. In 1894, the Hamburger Steak Sandwich was already known across the country, and not just in one limited region. If this sandwich had been invented in a specific city or town, it would have taken some time for its existence to have become known to others, and to spread to other parts of the country. So, its invention was likely at least a couple years before 1894, if not more. It is also possible that there were multiple origins of the Hamburger sandwich, that people in different regions of the country created the sandwich around the same time. The problem is finding evidence of its creation and existence prior to 1894. 

A lengthy article in the San Francisco Chronicle (CA), July 23, 1894, discussed the popularity of Hamburg steak sandwiches in the city, in an article titled “Odors of the Onion. A New Night Feature of City Life.” The article described the various streetside foot carts, which operated at night and in the early morning. It was noted, “They love darkness whose deeds are evil,’ is probably as good a reason as any why Hamburg steaks are cooked and eaten on the streets at night.” The article continued, “A popular demand for this luxury at 2 o’clock in the morning has added a strong flavor of onion to that delicious combination of odors which surprises and delights the stranger who visits the business portion of this city between twilight and dawn.”

Hamburgers at 2am? Was this the dish that people who had been drinking all night wanted to enjoy? The food carts were located on, “Market street, from Sixth to Kearny, is the main artery for this fragrant current which flows in on the night breeze, eddying around those perambulating kitchens stationed along the curbs of the side streets. The sandwich chariots are on the increase…

Commonly, a “kitchen wagon” has “On a broad shelf extending along the open side of the wagon is displayed the chopped beef and onions for the Hamburgs, which seem to be a specialty around the entire circuit.” It also stated, “This item is arranged in the most tempting manner possible. The meat is heaped up on a platter in the shape of a parallelepiped with rounded corners. A small parsley hedge growing along the top of the mass, like tuft grass on a sand dune, gives the whole a Frenchy aspect which cannot fail to please.”

Some artistry was involved as well. “But it is in decorating the perpendiculars of his chopped beef exhibit that the chef shows great originality of design. The fancy work is all done with raw onions sliced and fashioned into stars and crescent, diamonds, circles, rhomboids and rectangles and sometimes the symbol of the secret society to which the artist belongs.” In addition, “The cook now turns to the bread shelf,…and cuts two thin slices bias from the loaf.”

The description of the kitchen wagon was continued, “At the back of the wagon is another shelf, containing a platter of sliced ham and a box of eggs. There is also a paper roll here for the accommodation of the luxuriously inclined who send out for their sandwiches. In the rear end of the cart is the bread shelf, the front portion being occupied by the range. This is a gasoline stove with three jets, so that the entire repertoire—ham and eggs, ham and Hamburg—may be cooked simultaneously.”

The Hamburg sandwiches were very popular. As the article continued, “It is surprising the amount of business a sandwich chariot will do in a night. Sixty pounds of steak and onion, besides the other items, have been disposed of in a single séance from 9pm until 3am.” Plus, one owner said he sold “200 Hamburg steak sandwiches” on the 4th of July night, plus lots of ham and eggs. And their cost? “The sandwiches are 10 cents each and quite profitable at that, which accounts for the number of people investing in wagons and onions.” 

Numerous food trucks in San Francisco sold the popular Hamburg steak sandwiches, and it was a profitable business. There was nothing to indicate these sandwiches were a brand new creation, or a novelty.They seemed to have been served rather simply, with the usual onions. 

The Boston Globe, December 18, 1894, published a Recipe for “Beef a la Hamburg.” It stated, “Take the hamburg patties left from dinner and put them in hot water on the stove and let them boil 10 minutes, stirring so as to break them apart thin; skim out the meat and thicken with flour, and season with salt, pepper and butter; let that come to a boil and then turn on the beef.” This might be the first documented use of the term “patties” when referring to hamburgers. Previously, recipes called for the ground burger to be formed into “cakes.”

The Chicago Tribune (IL), July 5, 1896, had an article on lunch or sandwich cars, mentioning, “A distinguished favorite, only five cents, is Hamburger steak sandwich, the meat for which is kept in small patties and “cooked while you wait” on the gasoline range.” Also for a nickel. The Elmcreek Beacon (Nebraska), December 2, 1898, provided a menu for the Elm Creek Chop House, which offered a Hot Hamburger Sandwich for 5 cents. A bit pricier. The Emmons County Record (ND), December 9, 1898, had an ad for the American restaurant with a Hamburg Sandwich for 15 cents, a Hamburg Steak for 35 cents, and a Hamburg Steak with Eggs for 50 cents.

And finally, I’ll note a brief reference in the Morning Union (CA), February 27, 1900. They published an ad for the Gem Saloon and their Steam beer. It said, “A Hamburger sandwich is just the thing with good beer.” This might be the first time a Hamburger and Beer pairing was presented.


There are two main contenders for the creation of a hamburger sandwich, both with a claim to having invented it in 1885 at a county fair. Both origin stories lack supporting evidence to definitively verify their claims. Much of the evidence comes from many years after the alleged creation of the sandwich, often with plenty of hearsay and family stories passed down through the generations. We should question those family claims that lack substantiation. If definitive proof existed, there wouldn't be so much controversy over who invented the hamburger sandwich.   

One of the contenders is Charlie Nagreen (1871–1951) of Seymour, Wisconsin. It was alleged that in 1885, at a county fair, Charlie, who was only 15 years old, was selling meatballs and few customers were buying them as it was too hard to eat them while walking around the fairgrounds. So, he decided to flatten the meatballs, or some hamburg steak, between a couple slices of bread, making it easier to carry and eat. Charlies eventually became known as "Hamburger Charlie" aka “Hamburg Charley” and continued to sell these sandwiches for many years at the fair.

The first newspaper reference to a “Hamburg Charley” actually had nothing to do with sandwiches, or Charlie Nagreen. The Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), July 28, 1904, reported that Frederick Schmidt, a notorious criminal, was also known as “Hamburg Charley,” although no reason for this nickname was given. Schmidt had just been arrested again, this time for robbing a woman’s apartment. Another reference to a “Hamburg Charley” was in the Femdale Enterprise (CA), May 20, 1921, noting that Charley Crider, a night watchman, was known by that nickname, but again, no reason for the appellation was provided.

The first reference though to Charlie Nagreen as “Hamburg Charley” was published in the Oshkosh Northwestern (WI), September 21, 1934. The article stated that 49 years ago, Charlie, also known as C.R. Nagreen, started working at the Seymour county fair. Charlie had originally set out, “With his team of horses and 1,500 feet of lumber he started for New London, but the concessions there were closed and Charley was turned away.” So, Charlie turned around and went to another fair in Oshkosh. 

However, the article doesn’t state he invented the hamburger sandwich. That is a curious omission if Charlie had invented the hamburger 49 years ago at his first county fair. Why not mention that fact if it were true? A Wisconsin newspaper would have been proud that a local boy had created that iconic sandwich. 

The Wausau Daily Herald (WI), September 24, 1934, also mentioned Hamburger Charley, noting his longevity at the local fairs in southern Wisconsin. However, it also did not state that Charlie had been the inventor of the Hamburg sandwich.

It wouldn’t be until 1937 that “Hamburger Charley” started to press the claim that he created the Hamburg sandwich. The Green Bay-Press Gazette (WI), August 14, 1937, reported that Charlie Nagreen “.., today rose up at the counter of his stand at the Brown county fairgrounds and claimed the right to be called the originator of the hamburger.” Why did he wait over 50 years before publicly making this claim? And if he had to make this claim, then it couldn't;t have been obvious to others that he was the inventor of the hamburger. 

Charlie stated that in 1885, when he was fifteen years old, he set up his first stand at the Seymour fair. He continued, “I hit upon the idea of grinding up meat, frying it, and putting it between a bun. It tasted better seasoned with onions.” The newspaper also noted, “Asked about the name ‘hamburger,’ Charlie replied, ‘It just came to me.” 

I’ll note that this origin story will differ to some degree from Charlie’s later stories. It makes no mention of him having first tried to serve meatballs. He would have been aware of Hamburg steak, and it usually being accompanied by onions, so that wasn't anything innovative. Charlie also doesn’t provide a specific reason for calling it a ‘hamburger.’ Plus, he claims he placed the burger in a bun, although it would have been two slices of bread at this time period. His claims just don't seem persuasive. 

Jump forward ten years. A slightly different origin tale was related in the Post-Crescent (WI), August 6, 1947. Citing C.R. Nagreen, the article began, “Back in 1885, ground beef patties were called meatballs, and in the following year in 1886, they began being called ‘hamburgers,’…” Charlie claims he was “the originator of the word ‘hamburger.’” Again, there is no real evidence offered. 

The article also mentioned the many years that Charlie has had a hamburger stand at the local Wisconsin fairs. Interestingly, the article also noted that about 9 years ago, Harry Reynolds wrote a poem in tribute to Nagreen, covering his time from 1885 at the fairs. In the winters, Charlie ran a costume business, and had done so for about forty years. He also sold fireworks, for wholesale, for about 37 years, having recently ended that business. I’ll note that Charlie passed away in June 1951.

Once we reach the 1980s, the Post-Crescent (WI), November 9, 1985, discussed Charlie and the origin of the burger. It printed, “It was, they say, a fistful of ground beef that 15-year-old Charlie Nagreen in an unexplained whimsy, sort of flattened between two slabs of bread.” The newspaper spoke to someone who worked with Charlie, in the early 1900s, who stated, “You bet they were good. He made them with good, fresh meat and lots of fried onions every day. We’d go through a 50-pound bag of onions every day. We’d get a dime for a burger; 15 cents if it was ‘city day’ at the fair.” It was claimed that Charlie made as much as $400 a day. It was also mentioned that Charlie had other gigs, including selling Christmas trees, popcorn, ice cream, and running an inn.

The Country Today (WI), April 19, 1989, claimed that 15-year-old Charlie first began by selling meatballs at the fair. “However, fairgoers couldn’t stroll the grounds very well with a hot meat ball in their hands.” At some point, Charlie placed ground beef between bread, allegedly inventing the hamburger.

The main problem with Charlie Nagreen’s claim to having invented the hamburger appears to be a lack of evidence. The first newspapers to mention Charlie, from 1934, never mentioned that he had invented the burger. It wouldn’t be until 1937, over fifty years after its alleged invention, did Charlie claim to have originated the hamburger sandwich. Why wasn’t this claim made publicly much earlier?

Charlie also didn’t have a specific reason for calling it a “hamburger” although I note that the term existed since at least the 1870s, and Charlie would probably have heard it before. It was also later claimed that Charlie had began his fair business by selling meatballs, which didn’t sell well. He then decided to put ground beef in bread, but there was no explanation of where he obtained the bread. And initially, he may have just put squeezed meatballs between two slices of bread.

Without more evidence, I don’t think this origin story possesses enough credibility.


The other main contenders for having created the hamburger sandwich in 1885 at a county fair were Frank and Charles Menches, brothers from Ohio. However, there are conflicting stories about their origin tale, even differing as to the date of creation. The first origin stories were provided in local newspapers, while the second origin story was presented in a book in 1970. Which origin tale is more credible?

The first mention of the Menches brothers selling burgers was provided in the Akron Beacon Journal (OH), September 15, 1922. It was stated that for the last 40 years, the Menches have sold hot dog sandwiches at fairs in Summit county fairs. Commonly, they sold about “1,500 pounds of wieners at a fair,” a pound yielding about 12 weiners. So, the Menches were at the fairs since around 1882, but they weren't selling hamburgers all that time. 

The article continued, “In addition, we sell a ton of chopped beef or hamburger in sandwiches, and a pound will make on an average, 15 sandwiches. We have been selling hamburger sandwiches for 20 years.” And “During the last 20 years, have sold 600,000 hamburger sandwiches and 1,200,000 slices of bread.” That would mean they were only selling hamburgers since 1902. 

The article continued,  “The Menches originated the idea of the hamburger sandwich through force of circumstance. Originally, ‘hot dog’ was made with pork sausage, and 20 years ago the Menches could not purchase slender sausages. The thick sausage did not make a good sandwich, and they squeezed the filling out, fried it and made two sandwiches out of one sausage. The pork was too greasy, however, and they tried mixing a little chopped beef with it. Some of their patrons suggested beef alone and this was tried, with the result that beef was preferred to the mixture with pork and has remained as an institution ever since and has been copied by others all over the country.” 

Thus, according to this article, the Menches started selling hamburgers around 1902, and as we know Hamburg sandwiches existed at least as far back as 1894, the Menches couldn't have invented them. 

Charles Menche died in December 1931 and there were several obituaries in the newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal (OH), December 4, 1931, The Tennessean (TN), December 6, 1931, and Akron Beacon Journal (OH), January 9, 1937. They wrote about the life of Charles, although only briefly stating Charles had claimed to invent the hamburg sandwich. Details of that creation were not provided though.

The timelime was pushed back a decade in the Akron Beacon (OH), December 5, 1938. It reported, “The hamburger sandwich was born on the old Summit county fairgrounds here in the fall of 1892. Its birth was an accident, …” The article continued, “It was the opening day of the Summit county fair at the old fairgrounds at the foot of E. North at. Frank Menches checked his supply of small link sausages and found that he would not have enough to run through the afternoon. He called Zimmerly Bros., local packers, and placed an order for a tub of link sausage—delivery immediately.

However, Zimmerly didn’t have any link sausages but did have ground sausage, which Frank told him to send. Frank told his employees to “form the meat into small ‘patties’ and fry it.” They sold out those sausage sandwiches that afternoon, but also did some financial calculations. It cost 12 cents a pound for ground sausage but only 8 cents for beef, so the Menches brothers decided to try the beef instead.

Frank said, “I went around to Al Boder’s butcher shop on N. Howard st. and placed an order for 500 pounds of beef.” Boder was hesitant at first, considering all of the work he would have to do to chop 500 pounds of beef with his cleaver. However, Frank suggested he run it through the sausage grinder instead. The ground beef sandwiches did well and they averaged 1000 pounds of ground beef a day. They didn’t have a name for those sandwiches yet, just calling out, “Get your hot sandwiches here.” 

As Hamburg steak was well known across the country at this point, why didn't they call them "Hot Hamburg steak sandwiches?"

Frank continued about the naming of the sandwich. “Two years later, at the Elyria fair, Gus Sales of Cleveland had a stand where he was selling the ground beef sandwiches. His cry was ‘Hot hamburgers. Get your hot hamburgers here.’ From that time on we adopted the name for the sandwiches we had been selling for two years.” So, based on Frank's claims, the Menches didn’t create the name hamburger, instead adopting it from someone else in 1894. The article continued, noting that the Menches sold the most hmaburgers at the Stark county fair in Canton in 1921, selling three tons of hamburger meat. 

Gus Sales? The Elyria Chronicle Telegram (OH), April 18, 1873, stated that in 1894, Gus Sales "christened the hamburger" at the Elyria Fair.  However, there is little mention of Gus in the newspapers, little support for his claim. In addition, as we already know hamburger sandwiches existed in 1894, all across the country, then the claim of Gus Sales doesn't hold water. 

When Frank Menches died, the Akron Beacon Journal (OH), October 4, 1951, ran an obituary, basically copying the same origin story as presented in 1938.

The Evansville Courier & Press (IN), January 11, 1960, reported that, “The hamburger became popular in this country in 1904 at the St. Louis Fair. The ice cream cone became popular then and there too. The hamburger, however, was introduced in this country before that by—some say—a Frank Menches of Akron, O. They say he ran out of pork sausage at his concession stand in 1892 and shrewdly substituted ground beef.

This was echoed by the Seattle Daily Times (WA), March 14, 1968, stating, “Some historians honor Frank Menches of Akron, Ohio, who ran out of pork sausage at his stand at the Summit County Fair (NY) in 1892. The quick-thinking Menches substitured ground beef.”

Then, a drastically different origin tale of the Menches and the hamburger arose. 1970 saw the publication of Tanbark and Tinsel: A Galaxy of Glittering Gems from the Dazzling Diadem of Circus History by John Kunzog. The book provides fifteen chapters of circus history, although one of those chapters is about the creation of the Hamburger. Kunzog's origin tale pushed back the creation of the hamburger by the Menches to 1885, as well as moving the location of its creation from Ohio to New York. 

Kunzog alleged that he had spoken with Frank Menches during the early 1920s about the invention of the hamburger. However, Kunzog’s book wouldn’t be published until 1970, many years later, and after both Menches brothers were deceased. Why didn't Kunzog speak up earlier than 1970, to refute the other origin tales that involved the Menches brothers? 

Though the book doesn't mention it, it's probably safe to assume Kunzog, as a newspaper writer, kept some notes of his discussion with Franck Menches. However, were those notes complete, or did Kunzog have to rely on his memory of an interview that occurred over 45 years previously? And if Kunzog had a question about his notes, neither Menches was alive to answer it for him. 

The book stated that in 1881, the Menches brothers began a concession business, selling peanuts and popcorn, when Frank was 16 years old and his brother Charles was younger. There was too much competition, so they decided to start selling hot sandwiches, and selected the pork sausage sandwich. You could have either rye or white bread, and the condiments included mustard, horse radish, piccalilli, sliced dill pickles and raw sauerkraut. 

The Menches attended the Erie County Agricultural Fair, also known as the Hamburg Fair, in the summer of 1885. Unfortunately, the Menches received very little pork from butcher, allegedly because it was too hot to slaughter pigs. As a substitute, the butcher gave them five pounds of ground beef. ran out of pork and the local meat market could only give them ground beef as a substitute. 

The Menches fried up some patties, with just some salt, and they weren't satisfied with its flavor. They added some light brown sugar, and that sweetness was very pleasing to their taste. They might have added a coffee element, but there is a typo in the book so it isn't clear. They tried to come up with a name, and Frank, who knew his German history, claimed to have named it after the location of the fair, Hamburg, New York. For these Hamburgers, they added to their condiments, with catsup and sliced onion. They even placed some wild mint on their counter to onion breath. 

The book also discusses the other endeavors of the Menches, and their other possible food inventions. Kunzog also claims that the first cookbook to use the term "Hamburg" was the book Palatable Dishes: A Practical Guide to Good Living, published in 1890 by Peter Paul & Bro. However, if you actually look at that book, it never uses the term "Hamburg." It does have a recipe for "Meat Cakes," which is basically a Hamburg steak, seasoned with salt and pepper, and it isn't a sandwich. What other mistakes did Kunzog make in his book?

Why is Kunzog’s version so different from the ones presented in various newspapers from the 1930s on? Why are the origin dates so different? Kunzog claim some of it might have been "... inaccurate information or to keep honors at home." The problem with those allegations is that some of those prior articles also spoke directly to Frank Menches so why didn’t he tell the same story as allegedly related to Kunzog? Why have the dates of invention changed multiple times? 

I don’t find Kunzog’s account credible as it seems to contradict multiple prior newspaper articles, including those which interviewed Frank Menches. It's also seems too convenient that the Hamburger was invented at the Hamburg Fair. Plus, the term "Hamburger" was being used before 1885, so Frank couldn't have invented that term. 

Hamburg steak sandwiches, ground beef between two slices of bread, existed at least since 1894, and at that time, they were available across the country. Thus, these sandwiches likely originated at least a couple years before, giving them time to spread from the region of their creation to the rest of the country. Or, there could have been multiple, independent origins in different parts of the country. The origin of the hamburger is mired in controversy, but there's insufficient evidence to definitely determine the creator, and the existing candidates rely mainly on hearsay and tales passed down through families. 

Whoever created the hamburger, we can all agree that it's a wonderful sandwich! 

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