Home / AMERICAN NEWS / Why Is It Called A Hamburger When It’s Made Of Beef? — ‘The Why’

Why Is It Called A Hamburger When It’s Made Of Beef? — ‘The Why’

Welcome to the newest edition of The WhyWhy is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef?” you ask? Good question . . . especially considering we’re in barbeque season now. As per usual, Yahoo Answer posters provided some interesting responses.

Why is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef? “Rob Lou” says it’s called a hamburger because “the owl took 3 licks and then he bit it. That’s why.” (Google “Tootsie Roll Pop commercial” if you missed the joke. Suffice it to say, it’s famous enough to earn a reference on “Family Guy.”)

Then there was the non-committal crowd there led by David L who acknowledges the most widely accepted origin but also claims the hamburger “was invented by 2 brothers in Hamburg, New York not Hamburg, Germany.”  (Mind you his post was originally so rife with spelling errors and grammatical issues one must wonder how well he really did his homework.)

Why is it called a hamburger when it's made of beef

Why is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef?/Image: RSVLTS

Finally, someone named “Anonymous” replied with a question of his own: “Who the **** cares?” Obviously, in our case someone does care which is why we are addressing the question: Why is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef?

The hamburg or hamburger hales from Hamburg, Germany. Why not? The frankfurter (a.k.a. the hot dog) came from Frankfurt, Germany.

The most widely accepted story claims that hamburger began with the Tatars (or Tartars), nomadic folks who invaded Europe and Asia during the Middle Ages. They ate their beef raw and shredded—that’s we got “steak tartare.”

Interesting but why is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef? Hang in there. The Tartars reportedly tenderized their meat by placing it between their saddles and the horses they rode.

When they introduced the food to the Germans, they mixed the beef was mixed with secret spices then broiled or fried it thus creating Hamburg steak.  The Germans brought hamburger steak to the US when they legally emigrated here. It would hit New York restaurant menus by the 1880s.

So why is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef? Hamburgers—as an actual sandwich—would become a hit at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. They were reportedly invented by a man from Wisconsin.

Why is it called a hamburger when it's made of beef

Why is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef?/Image: SBC/KJ

One online source claims the man was supposedly making “meatball sandwiches”, became impatient when cooking them and chose to flatten the meatballs in order to reduce the cooking time. It’s a simple concept: “More surface area=faster cooking.”

Finally some hamburger trivia: The hamburger truly hit its stride here in the US following World War II. It was then that burgers suddenly became the big menu item at the numerous drive-in restaurants that sprung up in response to the increasing number of cars.

White Castle, founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas is noted as the world’s oldest chain of hamburger restaurants. The largest chain is, of course, McDonald’s, which began in San Bernardino, California and went on to include over 26,000 restaurants in 119 countries. They have served literally billions of hamburgers.

Why is it called a hamburger when it’s made of beef? Now you know.

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.