Deseret News

Desert News, June 21, 2002

"Make mine tenderized between the saddle and the horse and rare." Well, that's the way you'd eat it if you were a Tatar warrior. We're talking hamburgers, of course. According to some sources, that's where the hamburger came from. A Tatar warrior would place a filet between his saddle and the horse, and then go about his fighting and pillaging. A few hours later, he would have a tender piece of meat suitable for steak tartare - the forerunner of our hamburger, a food item that is, arguably, more American than apple pie. The history of the burger that we know and love goes back to the late 1800s. The ground beef on a roll was definitely a German thing, which immigrants and sailors brought with them to America. But it was a Yankee entrepreneur who made the hamburger what it is today.

In 1885, 15-year-old Charlie Nagreen - "Hamburger Charlie" - was having a problem selling his meatballs to fairgoers in Wisconsin. It seemed a meatball was difficult to hold onto while walking through the fair. Nagreen's solution was to flatten the meatball into a round patty and place it between two slices of bread. His invention was a great success - so much so that he continued to sell burgers at the Outagamie County Fair until his death in 1951.

Others credited with the invention of the burger are Lois Lassen (1890), of New Haven, Conn., and Fletch Davis (1892), of Athens, Texas. The credit for the bun goes to a fry cook named Walter Anderson (1916), who tailored the bread to the patty.

The rise of the burger fast-food chains began in 1921 with White Castle in Wichita, Kan. Its five-cent sandwiches were the dominant influence on burger culture (except Utah) until World War II. After the war, consumers wanted a restaurant that fit into their new mobile society spawned by the automobile.

In 1948, the McDonald brothers opened their first self-service drive-in in San Bernadino, Calif. Seven years later, a milkshake-mixer salesman, Raymond Kroc, would join forces with them and start a burger revolution. Their first franchise in Des Plaines, Ill., was the beginning of an empire that almost rivals Coca-Cola in worldwide recognition. Soon a multitude of imitations followed: Burger King, Wendy's, A&W, Sonic, Hardee's, Dee's (our local contender) and many more.

Hamburgers have a special place in the hearts of Americans. They have been our favorite food for years. Hamburgers seem to be tied to so many things that Americans find pleasurable and good: the Fourth of July, baseball, the family barbecue, summer and just being a kid. Ask any kid what he'd like for a meal and chances are he'll answer, "A hamburger."

We love burgers so much that five of the largest restaurant chains in the country have hamburgers as the main item on their menus.

According to Jeffery Tennyson, author of "Hamburger Heaven: The Illustrated History of the Hamburger," an average American eats about 30 pounds of hamburger a year, or about three burgers a week. That translates to a total of 38 billion hamburgers per year. A food source that commands that much power in the American psyche and is such a popular food item deserves special consideration. That's why we've (Bob Noyce, Heather Tuttle, Craig Holyoak and Christie Jackson) decided to try to locate the best hamburgers in the metro Salt Lake area. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

Our list of burger emporiums is definitely an incomplete representation of all the restaurants in the area. It would be impossible for us to try every hamburger in town. So, we've asked co-workers and friends to recommend their favorite establishments that serve this gastronomical icon. Perhaps our observations will be of assistance in your quest for a great burger.

After completing our search we've come to the conclusion that hamburgers come in as many different forms as the people who love them. No matter what your personal taste, there is a burger, a patty, a bun and a secret sauce that will tickle your taste buds (including vegetarian).

425 S. 700 East
Big H
Grilled with American cheese and secret sauce

BOB: A good old-fashioned burger. No gimmicks, just a great
burger. The emphasis on the buns, produced on-site, ground beef and
fresh ingredients really pays off. Probably the best-tasting burger for your
buck. One of my favorites.

HEATHER: No one can beat Hire's for a basic burger. As fresh as
they come, it tastes homemade and is sure to please the pickiest of

CRAIG: No restaurant-type burger here, but what you picture when you and friends say "hamburger" - that's what Hire's does better than anybody. The Hale family makes burgers like we should raise kids: From start to finish they leave nothing to chance or to the kindness of strangers. Long live the king.

CHRISTIE: Fresh, fresh, fresh. Making the best from the local butcher, baker and produce. History repeats itself daily with this great tasting iconic burger.

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