Everybody loves hamburgers! What's not to like? They come in all shapes and sizes from veggie, to turkey to the beloved beef burger. Last month In-N-Out Burger of California fame set up a "one day only" pop-up shop at Jarvis and Wellesley in Toronto. Hundreds of burger-lovers lined up early in the morning for a chance to taste the freshly-made hamburger and french fries. And now Wahlburgers, a chain of gourmet burger restaurants owned by actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and their older brother Paul, is set to open on November 15th in the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Toronto. No doubt it will be met with similar enthusiasm.
So what is it about the hamburger that has us salivating at the mere thought? There is some dispute as to who invented the hamburger, but what we do know for sure is that the hamburger first appeared as street food in the late nineteenth century and was quickly transformed into "fast food" and sold in lunch wagons or carts that moved to wherever potential customers were located. Lunch wagons originally sold prepared foods such as sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, pies and coffee but by the late 1800s, as demand increased, lunch carts with full kitchens started appearing. This allowed street vendors to prepare hot meals including burgers. The first hamburger chain made its appearance in 1921 when J. Walter Anderson, a former short-order cook, and Waldo Ingram, a real estate agent, joined forces to open the first White Castle restaurant in Wichita, Kansas. This new design was so successful that by 1931 White Castle had opened 131 outlets and had set the stage for other entrepreneurs to capitalize on North America's obsession with the burger. The rest is history.
To read about the hamburger and hamburger chains, take a look at these books and DVDs: