A hamburger is a sandwich that consists of a cooked patty of ground meat that is usually beef. The meat can be grilled, fried, steamed, or broiled, and is generally served with various condiments and toppings inside a sliced bun baked specially for this purpose. Burgers are often served with french fries, potato chips, or onion rings.
Hamburger can also refer to a cooked patty of ground beef by itself. The patty alone is also known as a beefburger or burger.
Hamburger can also refer to the meat itself. This type of meat can be used in boxed dinners such as "Hamburger Helper". Hamburger is actually a distinct product from ground round and other types of ground meat. However, ground beef of any form is often commonly referred to as "hamburger." A recipe calling for 'hamburger' (the non-countable noun) would require ground beef or beef substitute- not a whole sandwich.*****************The word "Hamburger" comes from Hamburg, Germany; the inhabitants of this city are also known as "Hamburger" in German but as Hamburgians in English. In Germany, local traditional snacks are often named after the place of origin, like the Frankfurter (also known as a hotdog), the Berliner (a type of "doughnut") or (Nürnberger) Bratwurst. In Hamburg it was common to put a piece of roast pork into a roll, called Rundstück warm, although this is missing the "essence" of the modern hamburger, which is ground meat. Yet another theory however states that also in Hamburg, Germany, meatscraps, similar to modern ground beef were served on a Brötchen, a round bun-shaped piece of bread. It is said that German immigrants then took the Hamburger to the United States, where the bun was added, creating the modern Hamburger.******************The concept of 'going out for a burger' has its origins in ancient Rome, where the poor living accommodation meant that it was hazardous to cook at home. As a result, street stalls selling the equivalent of 'meat in a ciabatta' rapidly became popular. The hamburger as ground meat can be traced back to the time when the Mongols (c. 1209) carried flat patties of lamb or mutton as a food source. Mongol riders would place the meat under the saddle; the saddle would tenderize the meat and the meat would be eaten raw. It gave the Mongols the ability to carry food, and eat it, all without dismounting from the horse. When the Mongols invaded Moscow, the hamburger was also brought and in turn was adopted as a cuisine named steak tartare after the invading Mongols (who were also known as the Tartars). Later, the German port of Hamburg had ships that visited a Baltic (by that time Russian) port and thus brought with it the new "tartare steak" as they would later call it. Ships from Hamburg, Germany coincidently shipped to New York also, and brought what is now known as the Hamburg steak.***************In the Middle Ages, Hamburg was an important center of trade between Arab and European merchants. The theory is that Arab traders introduced Kibbeh, which is ground lamb mixed with spices, often eaten raw. The locals then adapted the dish by replacing the lamb with pork and/or beef, and more significantly, by cooking it to make a filet of ground meat, such as a "Hamburg Steak" or "Hamburger" as it eventually came to be known. From this they made a new and unique kind of Rundstück warm that came to be strongly associated with the city.
There is still a German tradition of making ground beef sandwiches, thought to descend from the original "Hamburg Rundstück," and which tend to be elongated like an American sub sandwich, and feature very different condiments than the typical modern hamburger. These are often referred to as "German hamburgers" outside of Germany, and are served in many German-food restaurants.
Within Germany, the specific connection between the food and the city of Hamburg became lost as the sandwich spread throughout the country and became a somewhat common dish. In other countries, the historical term "Hamburger" remained in popular usage to describe ground meat rolls and sandwiches. In modern times, the term hamburger may refer to the meat patty used to make the sandwich or to the sandwich itself.******************The hamburger bun is said to have been invented in 1916 by Walter Anderson, a short-order cook, who went on to co-found White Castle in 1921. Before the bun, hamburgers are said to have been served between two pieces of bread. In fact, a ground beef patty was known as "Hamburger steak" (first mentioned in an American cookbook in 1891); when this was put between bread or in a bun it was called a "Hamburger sandwich".
One claim of inventing the Hamburger sandwich comes from Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin. In 1885, he tried selling fried meatballs at the Outagamie County fair, but customers found them hard to eat while walking around the fair, so Nagreen flattened it and made it into a sandwich he called the "hamburger". (Seymour is home to the Hamburger Hall of Fame and the world's largest hamburger, weighing in at 8,266 pounds [3,749 kg].)***********************According to some the first hamburgers in U.S. history were served in New Haven, Connecticut, at Louis' Lunch sandwich shop established in 1895. This small lunch wagon on Meadow Street in the city of New Haven, Connecticut, Louis Lassen is sometimes credited with having invented this quick businessman's meal when he sandwiched a broiled beef patty between two pieces of white toast for a busy office worker in 1900. Louis' Lunch was serving hamburgers from its closet-sized third location in the 1970s when it had to be re-located to 261-263 Crown Street to make room for a high-rise. Their burgers are prepared the same way they were since the beginning, hand formed beef patties broiled in the same stoves served on toasted white bread instead of a hamburger bun and no condiments; the only permitted garnishes are cheese, tomato, and onion.************************On January 12, 1974, the New York Times ran a story about Louis' Lunch and its impending doom. In this story it stated, "a serious challenge to the title is a theory supported by the McDonald's Corporation, the nationwide hamburger chain. McDonald's historians have researched the problem and claim the inventor was an unknown food vendor at the St. Louis Fair in 1904." This food vendor is most likely Fletcher Davis (1864-1941), also known as "Old Dave" or "Uncle Fletch". Fletcher operated a café at 115 Tyler Street on the north side of the courthouse square in Athens, Texas in the late 1880s. The late Texas historian, Frank X. Tolbert researched Fletcher Davis and claims that he invented the "hamburger sandwich". Local history also supports that Fletcher was selling an unnamed sandwich of ground beef between two slices of bread at his lunch counter in the late 1880s. In 1904 Davis and his wife Ciddy with backing from local business took their sandwich to the 1904 World's Fair. Fletcher and Ciddy launched their invention from, "Old Dave's Hamburger Stand" located on the pike at the fair. ("pike" meaning the midway.) Evidence of this comes from a New York Tribune article written by a reporter at the fair of a new sandwich called a hamburger, "the innovation of a food vendor on the pike." Tolbert's investigation proved that "Old Dave" was Fletcher Davis from Athens (Tolbert 1983). In addition to McDonald's claim, Dairy Queen ran a commercial during the 1980s that was filmed in the Athens, TX square, stating that Athens was the birthplace of the hamburger. In November 2006, The Texas State Legislature introduced Bill HCR-15, designating Athens as the "Original Home of the Hamburger".*********Due to widely prevalent anti-German sentiment in the USA during the First World War, an alternative name for hamburgers ("salisbury steaks") became more common for the duration. Even after the war, hamburger's popularity was severely depressed until the White Castle chain of restaurants created a business model featuring sales of large numbers of small hamburgers (later sometimes called "slyders", "grease grenades", "gut bombs" and other dysphemisms, though "slyder" is now a generic term for a small hamburger) in the mid-1920s. The original "Salisbury steak", however, was simply well-cooked plain, bunless hamburger, and was "invented" in 1888 by Dr. James H. Salisbury, an English physician. Today, Salisbury steak usually contains egg, bread crumbs or other extenders, and seasonings and is topped with gravy. A thin, fried, hamburger steak is sometimes referred to as a "minute steak". In many parts of the U.S., the same term is sometimes used for a thin, mechanically tenderized (nearly chopped) piece of round steak.***********The fast-food hamburger began its ascent to modern popularity when Ray Kroc purchased the McDonald's hamburger chain from the McDonald brothers in California, and opened his first McDonald's franchise in Illinois in the mid-1950s. Richard and Maurice McDonald had started the chain in San Bernardino, California, in 1948.
The "cheese hamburger," now simply the cheeseburger, is said to have first appeared in 1924, and credited to grill chef Lionel Sternberger of The Rite Spot restaurant in Pasadena, California. The term "burger" has now become generic, and may refer to sandwiches that have ground meat, chicken, fish (or even vegetarian) fillings other than a beef patty, but share the characteristic round bun. By the mid 20th century both terms were commonly shortened to "hamburger" or simply "burger." A "hamburger" today can also be made with finely chopped beef as well as ground beef.
Hamburgers are generally served in fast food restaurants. The McDonald's fast-food chain sells a sandwich called the Big Mac that is one of the world's top selling hamburgers. Other major fast-food chains – including Burger King (known as Hungry Jacks in Australia), A&W, Whataburger, Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, Harvey's, White Castle, In-N-Out Burger, Five Guys, Fatburger, Burgerville, Back Yard Burgers, and Sonic – also rely heavily on hamburger sales. Fuddruckers and Red Robin are popular hamburger chains that specialize in mid-tier "restaurant-style" variety of hamburgers. The "slider" style of mini hamburger is still popular regionally in the White Castle and Krystal chains.
Often, hamburgers served as a common picnic and party food cooked outdoors on barbecue grills. Hamburgers are also very good for backyard grilling and for home use. Hamburger patties are raw when first bought and may contain harmful bacteria, therefore caution is needed when handling them. Hamburgers should be fully cooked to kill the bacteria.