19 Mouthwatering Facts About the History of Burgers

facts about burgers
  • The term “hamburger” comes from Hamburg, Germany where minced beef patties originated.
  • Major milestones like the 1904 World’s Fair helped launch burgers into mainstream popularity.
  • Americans eat a staggering 50 billion burgers per year, making it a national food staple.
  • McDonald’s sells an astounding 75 burgers globally per second, showcasing fast food innovation.
  • From luxury ingredients to 10,000+ calories, burgers can be taken to extremes.
  • National Hamburger Day on May 28th is an annual celebration of burger culture.
  • Burgers account for 40-60% of all sandwich sales worldwide thanks to their versatility.
  • On average, American individuals eat about 3 burgers per week as part of their diet.

We’re delighted to present our gallery of AI-generated images (only in this gallery, don’t use images from the article). Feel free to use any of these images as you wish, whether for personal or commercial purposes. All we ask is that you enjoy the creativity and possibilities these unique visuals offer. No attribution is required, but always appreciated!


As one of the most beloved foods around the world, the humble hamburger has a rich history and culture behind it. The juicy patty on a bun has become an icon of convenience, customization, and indulgence. While burgers may seem simple, their origins and impact are complex. From ancient influences to modern day records, burgers have a story to tell. Explore 19 fascinating facts covering the origins, legends, trends, and trivia that have defined this signature sandwich over the centuries.


1. The term “burger” comes from Hamburg, Germany.

The minced beef patties that eventually became modern hamburgers originated in Hamburg, Germany in the 19th century. These patties were known as “Hamburg steaks” and were brought over to America by German immigrants. The name was eventually shortened to “burger” but the Hamburg origin remains in the name hamburger.

2. The hamburger was popularized at the 1904 World’s Fair.

When Hamburg steak sandwiches were sold at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, it introduced the American public to what would become the classic hamburger. The convenient sandwiches proved popular at the fair, leading to the spread of burger popularity across the country. This World’s Fair launch point paved the way for burgers to become a staple of American cuisine.

3. Americans eat 50 billion burgers per year.

With over 300 million Americans, that comes out to about 3 burgers per week for every person in the United States. Burgers are a central part of the American diet, with their quick and casual nature lending themselves to being a go-to meal. The ubiquity of burger chains also ensures that Americans have constant access to this favorite meal.

4. The hamburger likely originated in the 19th century.


Although the exact origins are unclear, the hamburger as we know it today likely developed around the late 1800s. This period saw an influx of German immigrants bringing over their hamburger steak recipes, the proliferation of commercial meat grinders, and fast food innovations like the bun. Together, these factors point to burgers emerging as a sandwich concept sometime in the late 19th century.

5. The first fast-food hamburger chains opened in the 1920s.

The original White Castle opened its doors in Wichita in 1921, selling small 5-cent burgers with a minimalist approach that would come to define fast food. It patented the first burger-cooking machine in 1926. Other chains like Krystal and White Tower opened outlets throughout the 1920s to meet the demand for quick and cheap hamburgers. This decade saw the birth of the fast-food burger.

6. McDonald’s sells 75 burgers per second.

With over 38,000 locations in 100 countries, McDonald’s has become the largest burger chain worldwide. The staggering speed of 75 burgers sold globally per second adds up to astronomical annual sales of billions of burgers. Their high-efficiency assembly line approach revolutionized the fast-food burger model.

7. The most expensive burger cost $5,000.

Setting the record for the world’s most expensive burger, the Le Burger Extravagant is served at New York’s Serendipity 3 restaurant. Made with luxe ingredients like Japanese Wagyu beef, white truffles, and James Montgomery cheese, the burger is topped with gold flakes and caviar for the full over-the-top experience. At $5,000, this lavish burger costs more than many whole restaurant meals.

8. The largest burger weighed over 3,500 pounds.


This beefy behemoth was cooked in Wisconsin in 1982 specifically to set a world record. Made to highlight Wisconsin’s beef industry, the giant burger was sliced up to feed a crowd of around 10,000 people. After being certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, the burger achieved official largest burger status.

9. There is a museum dedicated to burgers.

Celebrating its claim as the original birthplace of the hamburger, Seymour, Wisconsin is home to the Hamburger Hall of Fame. The museum covers the history of the hamburger, especially honoring 19th-century hamburger pioneer Charles Nagreen. Exhibits also chronicle the burger’s evolution into an American food staple.

10. Burger King uses over 700 million pounds of beef annually.

As the second largest fast-food burger chain, Burger King needs huge quantities of beef to supply its 7,300 global locations. Their annual beef consumption adds up to 700 million pounds for an average of over 93 million burgers sold every year. Their “Have It Your Way” model relies on reliably massive beef supplies.

11. Hamburgers were once called “liberty sandwiches.”

During World War 1, with anti-German sentiment on the rise, an alternative name for hamburgers emerged. The new term “liberty sandwiches” let restaurants continue serving the popular burgers while avoiding the German-sounding name during the war. This patriotic rebranding defined burgers in that era.

12. National Hamburger Day is on May 28.


While not an official holiday, May 28th is informally celebrated by burger fans as National Hamburger Day. Restaurants often run burger deals and specials to mark the food holiday. The yearly celebration is a great excuse to enjoy one of America’s favorite foods.

13. The cheeseburger was invented in 1924.

The cheeseburger came about when 16-year-old Lionel Sternberger first decided to top a burger with a slice of cheese at his father’s Pasadena sandwich shop in 1924. Melting the cheese directly on the hot patty let the flavors combine into the classic cheeseburger. This simple innovation gave burgers added richness.

14. White Castle was the first burger chain.

When White Castle opened up in Wichita, Kansas in 1921 it pioneered the idea of a food chain dedicated specifically to fast and inexpensive burgers. The original location sold burgers for just 5 cents each using novel ideas like high-volume preparation. Their success spawned countless other burger chains.

15. In-N-Out prints Bible verses on packaging.

The popular fast food chain In-N-Out discreetly prints “John 3:16” on the bottom of cups and wrappers, a nod to the chain’s Christian foundations. Subtle references like this on the packaging are one way they express their religious values.

16. Burger King uses “virtual” flame grilling.


Burger King distinguishes itself through its flame-grilled burgers. However, for speed and consistency, the patties are grilled on a factory conveyor broiler. Only the burger ads show real open-flame grilling – a marketing tactic sometimes called “virtual flame grilling”.

17. The bunless “protein style” burger has ancient origins.

While it seems like a modern low-carb diet trend, wrapping a burger in lettuce leaves instead of a bun echoes back to the ancient Greek tradition of using lettuce or grape leaves to wrap various meat dishes. This custom was even adopted by Socrates and his followers as a meal.

18. The world’s most caloric burger contains nearly 10,000 calories.

Served in Las Vegas, the Heart Attack Grill’s Quadruple Bypass Burger lives up to its health warning name. Four meat patties, twenty strips of bacon, and plentiful cheese make this massive burger clock in at nearly 10,000 calories! It sets the record for the unhealthiest burger in the world.

19. Hamburgers account for nearly half of all sandwiches sold globally.

From American chains to local variations, hamburgers make up 40-60% of global sandwich sales. The simplicity, versatility, and appeal of meat patties in buns make burgers dominate the international sandwich market. Their popularity transcends cultures.



Burgers have come a long way from their hotly debated origins to their current status as a dietary staple, especially in America. The beauty of burgers lies in their versatility – whether you prefer a simple beef patty or an elaborate 5-star version, custom burgers have universal appeal.

Records have been set and broken when it comes to size, ingredients, and consumption patterns, but the love for burgers remains constant. After learning these 23 facts, you can appreciate your next burger experience even more. Burgers are more than just a convenient meal – they are a slice of cultural history.

Similar Posts