Your friendly neighborhood burger joint Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers has become the hottest place to be (and believe us, we know how hot it’s been this summer!). Across our fourteen locations in Arizona and California, we serve tried and true burgers and favorites with a twist, with a comprehensive beer selection. But we couldn’t help but wonder, where did the cheeseburger originate? That led us to some interesting history about some of our other familiar and favorite dishes.
Without further ado, here’s what we found on the origin of the cheeseburger and four more fun food facts.
Of course, here’s what we were looking forward to most! Before there was a cheeseburger, there was a hamburger: simply a hamburger patty on a bun. In 1891, just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oscar Weber Bilby was the first to serve hamburgers on a thick, yeasty bun instead of between two slices of bread. But it wasn’t until 1924 in Pasadena, California, that a short-order cook named Lionel Clark Sternberger first put a slice of cheese on the hamburger he was making. He called it the “Aristocratic Hamburger” and “The Original Hamburger with Cheese.”
Since then, the cheeseburger tradition includes just about any topping you can put on it, and the burger itself has spread to the rest of the world. Now not only can you have a cheeseburger made with beef, but also lamb, pork, or veggie burgers. The typical staples of a good ol’ American cheeseburger are usually pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, and tomato. However, really what it comes down to is that you’re only limited by your imagination. Take for instance our Bacon PB&J burger: sugar-cured bacon, peanut butter, grape jelly, cheddar, and chipotle honey sauce. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s weird, and it’s wonderful.
Come visit and try it out yourself! Our ingredients are fresh, the beer is cold, and the cheeseburgers are exactly right.
2. French Fries
In the US, we love our fried potatoes: we have steak fries, potato chips, tater tots, and hash browns, on top of a multitude of different fries of all shapes and textures, such as waffle-cut, crinkle-cut, and curly. French fries come with almost every restaurant meal, from sandwiches to fried fish. Are they French? Not technically. The story goes that US soldiers in southern Belgium brought the ideas and recipes back from their deployments during World War I. The Belgians typically ate fried fish, but in the winter, when the rivers froze, they fried potatoes instead. So why aren’t they called Belgian fries? It turns out the dominant language of the area was French, and the name stuck.
There have been other French fries, though they probably didn’t look like the long, golden strips that we know now. Back in the 1780s in Paris, street vendors sold fried potatoes, though the potatoes that originally were brought from South America to Europe were tiny—only about the size of golf balls.
The earliest mention of French fries in America was when President Thomas Jefferson directed the White House chef, Frenchman Honoré Julien, to prepare “potatoes in the French manner” for a state dinner. Jefferson was an avid Francophile (he lived in France from 1784 to 1789) and enjoyed bringing pieces of French culture to America.
3. Apple Pie
The phrase “as American as apple pie” has been around since 1851 and was popularized in the 1940s as a patriotic expression. However, it turns out that neither apples nor pie is born and bred in the United States! Apples of different varieties originated in Europe and Asia, and the various pie recipes came to us through immigrants from Sweden, the Netherlands, and Britain. The traditional lattice-style crust was a Dutch invention in the 15th century.
Remember hearing about Johnny Appleseed traveling the highways of the young United States, spreading apple trees wherever he went? Turns out, he actually spread crabapple trees, which have sour, inedible fruit, which is used to make hard cider. The apples we’re familiar with now came from Europe in the mid-1600s.
4. Buffalo Wings
Spicy, tangy, and messy, this is one food on this list that was an American invention from the start. A staple of bars and pubs, this chicken wing slathered in sauce and served with celery on the side was created in 1964. Teressa Bellissimo ran a family-owned restaurant called the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York—hence the name.
Why is it so often paired with bleu cheese and celery? The answer is simpler than you think: because when it was first dished up by Bellissimo, that was all she had available! No matter—the condiments stuck, and a delicious tradition was formed.
Want to be part of the tradition? The city of Buffalo has celebrated Chicken Wing Day every July 29th since 1977. You can either celebrate in New York or close to home—after all, we have four kinds of wings available every day.
This most flexible of flatbreads comes in an infinite variety. In Brazil, you might expect it to come topped with green peas, with a super-thin crust. In London, you can find it with tandoori chicken and sweet corn. Or maybe you’d like to try the Swedish way, topped with banana curry? Even within the US, there are different ways of baking and presenting it: witness the Chicago deep-dish, the New York-style dripping with cheese, and the square Detroit pizzas.
Have you ever wondered why a pizza topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil is called a Margherita pizza? Did you think it might just really go well with margaritas? In reality, it’s because there’s a legend about the Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. They asked baker Raffaele Esposito to make them a pizza on a visit to Naples in 1889. Esposito was considered the first to bring the Italian pizza into the mainstream, with tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings. Before that, pizza was a street food.