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LFS Nostalgia

May 07, 2009

Written by: Joe Harvey

1885 - The family of Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio, claim the brothers invented the hamburger while traveling in a 100-man traveling concession circuit at events (fairs, race meetings, and farmers' picnics) in the Midwest in the early 1880s. During a stop at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, the brothers ran out of pork for their hot sausage patty sandwiches. Because this happened on a particularly hot day, the local butchers stop slaughtering pigs. The butcher suggested that they substitute beef for the pork. The brothers ground up the beef, mixed it with some brown sugar, coffee, and other spices and served it as a sandwich between two pieces of bread. They called this sandwich the "hamburger" after Hamburg, New York where the fair was being held. According to family legend, Frank didn't really know what to call it, so he looked up and saw the banner for the Hamburg fair and said, "This is the hamburger." In Frank's 1951 obituary in The Los Angeles Times, he is acknowledged him as the ''inventor'' of the hamburger.

Hamburg held its first Burgerfest in 1985 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the hamburger after organizers discovered a history book detailing the burger’s origins.

In 1991, Menches and his siblings stumbled across the original recipe among some old papers their great-grandmother left behind. After selling their burgers at county fairs for a few years, the family opened up the Menches Bros. Restaurant in Akron, Ohio. The Menches family is still in the restaurant business and still serving hamburgers in Ohio.

On May 28, 2005, the town of Akron, Ohio hosted the First Annual National Hamburger Festival to celebrate the 120th Anniversary of the invention of the hamburger. The festival was dedicated to Frank and Charles Menches. That's how sure the city of Akron is on the Menches' family claim on the contested contention that two residents invented the hamburger. 

Comments (5)

Joe Arico
Jul 21, 2009 9:45 PM

Was it Wimpy?

Vincent McConeghy
May 7, 2009 8:21 PM

the only thing Northern Ohio invented was losing NFL football games...Granted Buffalo comes a close second, but when it comes to the all time losingest...it you guys

David Smania
May 7, 2009 1:47 PM

I heard that chicken wings were invented by "Buffalo Wild Wings" - based out of....eerrrrr.....Minneapolis? :)

Joe Harvey
May 7, 2009 12:59 PM

C'mon Vince...you guys trying to take credit for a national staple AGAIN?! And I suppose Chicken Wings were "invented" in Buffalo? Our patsies invented the patty... end of story. Go have a beef-on-weck and some wings.

Vincent McConeghy
May 7, 2009 11:46 AM

The First Annual National Hamburger Festival...I think not...The real deal happens every July in Hamburg, NY, where those two patsies from OH ripped off the idea and claimed ownership to the hamburg...Worse still, the French lay claim to the hamburg...I don't know what is worse...http://www.chow.com/stories/11635

Food and Memory

There is an unmistakable connection between food and memory. The smell of something baking in an oven can transport one back decades, to another time, another place, where the world may have seemed simpler and boundless in possibility.

The LFS Nostalgia Blog allows us a look back at the people, places, products and memories that collectively contribute to a particular food culture.

Our food traditions need to be preserved by those who have lived the life of a food professional.  This is your chance to capture a story, tell the tale, paint a picture, of something that happened and still remains in your delicious memory.