The Burger: Its History and How a Cheeseburger Became Kosher In NYC

On average, Americans eat 100 hamburgers a year. McDonalds alone sells three billion a year, and nearly a total of 14 billion burgers are sold across the country when including all various restaurants and chains.

Although early Mongolians troops under Genghis Khan are thought to have eaten the first traditional burgers by forming patties of scraps of meat and roasting or eating them raw, the word, “hamburger,” originated from the German city of Hamburg, which was then brought over to America during the influx of immigration. At least five German immigrants from the late 19th century claimed to have invented the hamburger, a patty of ground meat served between slices of bread. A hamburger is usually served with a combination of toppings that can include lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, bacon, cheese, ketchup, mustard, relish, etc. The meat itself can vary from beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, etc.

There are many disputes over who actually started selling the first hamburger in America. The Library of Congress officially declared the first hamburger was created in America by Louis Lassen, owner of Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut in 1900. White Castle claims the first hamburger was created by Otto Kuase in 1891, who topped his patties with a fried egg. After World War I, White Castle named their burgers, “salisbury steak,” due to a large anti-German sentiment. Burgers became very unpopular until White Castle introduce mini burgers, which they called “slyders.” Although the burger meat patty was served between slices of bread earlier, the first actual burger bun was created by an Oklahoma farmer, Oscar Weber Bilby, in the late 19th century. He later opened a hamburger stand in 1933 with his son, Leo, which is still operating to this day using the same grill as the original stand.

There are also disputes over who invented the first cheeseburger. In 1926, Lionel Sternberger served burgers topped with cheese from his father’s shop at the age of 16 while working as a fry cook. In 1935, Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver, Colorado first trademarked the name, “cheeseburger.” There are also many variations of the cheeseburger, such as the Jucy (or Juicy, depending who you ask) Lucy, which has the cheese melted inside the burger patty instead of placed on top of it. There are also varying claims as to who invented that particular hamburger.

Kosher burgers are also incredibly popular for observant Jews who keep kosher. Some may be a little discouraged that they can’t have their burgers with cheese to enjoy a proper cheeseburger, as the mixing of milk and meat together is prohibited according to the Torah. However, places like Talia’s Steakhouse on the Upper West Side of Manhattan still serve kosher burgers NYC with cheese and it’s still completely Glatt Kosher. Their trick is to use soy cheese, which tastes just like the real thing. The NYC kosher restaurant was met with some controversy from Jewish people who believe that just the look of the kosher cheeseburger had to be avoided, as indicated in a NY Post article. It was also featured on Fox News and NY Blueprint. If you’re looking for great kosher burgers on Amsterdam Avenue, with or without cheese, Talia’s may be the place for you. Ask about the only kosher cheeseburger in New York City!

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