Ultimate perfection on a bun

National Hamburger Month – but who needs an excuse, really?

To some, it’s perfection in a bun. To some, it’s the only time they ever get to eat salad. Others wonder whose fool idea it was to put a damned pickled weird thing in there in the first place. But all are united in thrall to National Hamburger Month, making May as special as it is tasty. Here’s Weekender’s ultimate guide to the burger.

The word hamburger probably existed by the end of the Middle Ages.

According to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the hamburger was invented by Fletcher Davis in his small cafe in Athens, Texas in the 1880s.

The modern hamburger (on a bun) appears during World War I. The White Castle restaurant chain was established in 1916 at Wichita, Kansas and by the early 1920s sold hamburgers. Some scholars say the first hamburger served on a bun appeared in 1917 at Drexel’s Pure Food Restaurant, Chicago. By 1920 hamburgers on buns were sold in San Francisco and Cincinnati, and by the mid-1920s, hamburgers were recognisable to most Americans.

Supposedly, the first hamburgers in US history were served in New Haven, Connecticut, at Louis’ Lunch sandwich shop in 1895. Louis Lassen, founder of Louis’ Lunch, ran a small lunch wagon selling steak sandwiches to local factory workers. Because he didn’t like to waste the excess beef from his daily lunch rush, he ground it up, grilled it, and served it between two slices of bread.

The Big Mac was introduced in 1968. The price was 49 cents.

In 1999 there were more than 25,000 McDonald’s in 115 countries.

Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers comprise 71 per cent of the beef servings in commercial restaurants.

Burgers account for 40 per cent of all sandwiches sold.

8.2 Billion burgers were served in commercial restaurants in 2001.

65 per cent of all hamburgers and cheeseburgers are consumed away from home.

The biggest hamburger ever served weighed 8,266 lbs. It was cooked in 2001 at the Burger Fest in Seymour, Wisconsin.

When McDonald’s was laying plans for its first Paris franchise, “Gros Mec” seemed the appropriate translation for the Big Mac, until red-faced McDonald’s officials learned that “Gros Mec” also meant “big pimp” to the Frenchman.

To date, McDonald’s has sold over 100 billion Hamburgers.

June is the biggest burger month for restaurants, with nearly 800 million burgers ordered and eaten from restaurants in this month alone.

The Hamburger Hall of Fame is located in Seymour, Wisconsin.

What did the Zen Buddhist say to the Hot Dog vendor? “Make me one with everything”. (We know that’s not a hamburger-related fact but it is one of our favourite jokes.)

You can find spicy burgers in India, kangaroo burgers in Australia and the Japanese munch on ‘hambaagu’.

Today’s burger could be made from turkey, tuna or soya, topped with anything from a sliced tomato to a slab of foie gras.

Gordon Ramsay’s burger recipe:

Serves 6 (mini-burgers)

Mix 300g lean ground beef and a finely chopped onion well in a bowl. Season with pepper. Form into six balls, flatten slightly and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 30 minutes. Fry over a high heat for 3 minutes each side, then turn down and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with toasted buns, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, ketchup and mayonnaise.

Other extraneous notes:

Hamburg is in Germany.

Germany is in Europe.

Europe is to the East of the United States.

Pickled gherkins are entirely pointless.

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