Perhaps no other dish in the country is as iconic as the hamburger. Not only is it featured on virtually every diner menu, the hamburger is a genre all its own. The precise origin of the hamburger is not known, although there are many claims to the invention.
The precursor to the modern hamburger was the Hamburg steak, minced beef served raw, which was listed on an 1873 menu for Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City. Among those who are the possible “fathers” of the hamburger is Charles Nagreen of Wisconsin, who decided in 1885 to flatten out his Hamburg steaks and serve them between bread for the ease of his customers at a county fair. Other sources say it was invented by Louis Lassen in 1895 for his New Haven, Connecticut restaurant. Lassen used vertical broiler stoves to cook the meat and served them as hamburger sandwiches. Louis’ Lunch still serves these burgers to this day, cooked in the original broilers.
While the past of the humble hamburger may be a little foggy, it is quite clear that this dish is here to stay.