Burgers are a staple in American cuisine, and the addition of cheese has become a beloved tradition. But what about bacon?
Who first thought to add crispy, salty bacon to a juicy cheeseburger? The answer may surprise you.
In this article, we’ll dive into the history of the bacon cheeseburger and explore the various claims to its invention. From California to Colorado, Kentucky to Michigan, we’ll uncover the stories behind this iconic dish and give credit where credit is due.
So grab a napkin and get ready to drool as we uncover the delicious origins of the bacon cheeseburger.
Who Invented The Bacon Cheeseburger?
The bacon cheeseburger is a beloved American classic, but who can claim credit for its invention? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
One claim to the invention of the bacon cheeseburger comes from a franchise of A&W Restaurants in Lansing, Michigan. According to legend, a customer repeatedly requested that bacon be added to their cheeseburger, and the restaurant finally obliged. This led to the creation of the bacon cheeseburger, which quickly became a fan favorite.
However, there are other claims to the invention of this delicious dish. Some say it was first created in California by a teenager working at his father’s sandwich shop. Others credit a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky with inventing the cheeseburger in 1934.
Regardless of who can truly claim credit for inventing the bacon cheeseburger, it’s clear that this dish has become an American icon. It’s now a staple on menus across the country and has even inspired record-breaking creations like the 2,014-pound bacon cheeseburger served up by a Minnesota casino in 2012.
The Evolution Of The Cheeseburger
The cheeseburger itself has a fascinating history that dates back to the 1920s. While the hamburger had already been invented, it wasn’t until the late 1920s to mid-1930s that adding cheese to hamburgers became popular.
One of the earliest examples of the cheeseburger comes from Lionel Sternberger, who is reputed to have invented the cheeseburger in 1926 when he was just 16 years old. He experimentally added American cheese to a sizzling hamburger, creating a happy accident that is relished all over the world today. Another early example of the cheeseburger was at O’Dell’s restaurant in Los Angeles, which featured a chili-smothered cheeseburger for a mere 25 cents.
There are several other restaurants claiming that the cheeseburger was their invention, though the trademark was awarded to Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-in in Denver, Colorado. Regardless of who can claim credit for inventing the cheeseburger, it’s clear that this dish has come a long way since its humble beginnings.
Today, cheeseburgers come in all shapes and sizes, with variations in structure, ingredients, and composition. As with other hamburgers, a cheeseburger may include toppings such as lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, bacon, mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard. In fast food restaurants, the cheese used in cheeseburgers is usually processed cheese. Other meltable cheeses may be used as alternatives. Common examples include cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, blue cheese, and pepper jack.
Despite its evolution over the years, the cheeseburger remains a beloved classic that has stood the test of time. It’s hard to imagine American cuisine without this iconic dish.
The Birth Of The Bacon Cheeseburger
The origins of the bacon cheeseburger are shrouded in mystery, but there are a few stories that stand out. One of the most popular claims to the invention of the bacon cheeseburger comes from A&W Restaurants, which is set to turn 100 years old on June 20. According to the company, a franchisee named Dale Mulder invented the bacon cheeseburger. Mulder’s customers would request bacon on top of their cheeseburgers, so he decided to put it on the menu. This led to the creation of the bacon cheeseburger, which quickly became a fan favorite.
However, there are other stories that suggest different origins for this iconic dish. For example, some food historians credit a teenager named Lionel Sternberger with inventing the cheeseburger in 1924 at his father’s sandwich shop in California. Others believe that a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky called Kaelin’s invented the cheese-topped burger in 1934.
Despite the conflicting stories about its origins, there’s no denying that the bacon cheeseburger has become a beloved part of American cuisine. It’s now a staple on menus across the country and has even inspired record-breaking creations like the 2,014-pound bacon cheeseburger served up by a Minnesota casino in 2012. Whether you prefer your bacon cheeseburgers with ketchup or mustard, pickles or onions, it’s clear that this dish will continue to be a favorite for generations to come.
The California Claim
One of the earliest claims to the invention of the cheeseburger comes from California. According to legend, a teenage cook named Lionel Sternberger accidentally created the cheeseburger at a roadside restaurant called The Rite Spot in Pasadena. As the story goes, Sternberger burned a burger patty and tried to hide his mistake by adding a slice of cheese on top. The customer loved it, and the cheeseburger was born.
While there are some discrepancies about the exact year of this invention (some say 1923, others say 1924 or 1926), many food historians credit Sternberger with being the first to add cheese to a hamburger patty. The Rite Spot quickly added the “Aristocratic Burger” to their menu, and it became a hit with customers.
Although other states have also claimed to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger, California has a strong case for being the true originator. After all, Southern California is known for being home to some of the most iconic burger chains in America, including In-n-Out, Carl’s Jr., Tommy’s, and Fatburger.
Regardless of where it was first created, there’s no denying that the cheeseburger has become an essential part of American cuisine. It’s a classic comfort food that continues to evolve and inspire new creations even today.
The Colorado Controversy
While there are several claims to the invention of the cheeseburger, one particularly noteworthy claim comes from the state of Colorado. According to historical records, the cheeseburger was invented in 1935 by Louis Ballast, the owner of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver. Ballast received a patent for his cheeseburger sandwich, which he reportedly served with a slice of onion and a pickle on the side.
However, there is some controversy surrounding Ballast’s claim to the invention of the cheeseburger. Kaelin’s, a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, claims to have invented the cheeseburger a year earlier in 1934. The restaurant even has a 1934 menu to support their claim.
Despite this controversy, Colorado remains proud of its cheeseburger heritage. The Humpty Dumpty Drive-In may be long gone, but a granite monument now stands in its place, commemorating Ballast’s contribution to American cuisine. And for Coloradans, the cheeseburger remains a beloved dish that represents the state’s culinary ingenuity and innovation.
The Kentucky Connection
One of the claims to the invention of the cheeseburger comes from Kaelin’s Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. The restaurant’s founder, Carl Kaelin, is said to have added a slice of American cheese to a hamburger patty in 1934, creating a culinary treasure that would become a truly-American staple.
Kaelin’s Restaurant quickly became known for its cheeseburgers, and it still holds a special place in the hearts of Kentuckians today. The restaurant also had another claim to fame – Carl Kaelin was friends with Harland Sanders, who would go on to found Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders even approached Kaelin about selling his fried chicken at the restaurant.
Despite other claims to the invention of the cheeseburger, many Kentuckians still trust Irma Kaelin Raque, Carl and Margaret’s daughter, who began helping her mother take hamburger (and cheeseburger) orders as a three-year-old. According to Irma, her father casually suggested putting cheese on burgers one day, and he promptly finished three of them in one sitting.
Today, Kaelin’s Restaurant has re-opened in its original location with a mix of old classics and new menu items. And while the debate over who truly invented the bacon cheeseburger may never be fully settled, Kentuckians can take pride in knowing that their state played a role in its creation.
The Michigan Mystery
While Michigan may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of mysteries, the state is home to a fascinating and unusual attraction known as the Mystery Spot. Located about five miles west of St. Ignace in the state’s upper peninsula, the Mystery Spot has been drawing visitors since its discovery in the early 1950s.
Legend has it that three surveyors stumbled upon an area of land where their equipment didn’t work properly and they constantly felt light-headed. This led to the discovery of a circle about 300 feet in diameter where gravity and other physical laws seemed to behave strangely. Visitors to the spot report experiencing bizarre sensations, such as feeling like they’re standing at an angle or watching tall people appear shorter than they do outside of the spot.
Despite skepticism from some, tourists continue to flock to the Mystery Spot for its unique and mind-bending experiences. The site has even been voted Michigan’s number one unusual attraction by readers of Michigan Living magazine. In addition to the main attraction, visitors can enjoy guided tours, miniature golf, a maze in the woods, and even a zip line ride.
Whether you’re a believer in the mysterious forces at work or just looking for a fun and quirky experience, the Michigan Mystery Spot is definitely worth a visit. Just be prepared for your brain to be hijacked by perceptual con-artists and for gravity to behave in unexpected ways!