Atlas Obscura

The Birthplace of the Hamburger

Adam Jones/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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The birthplace of the hamburger is an honor that many eateries have tried to claim over the years, but only one has been officially recognized by the Library of Congress as the real thing. It may also be the only one still cooking burgers on a vertical stove.

Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, is a historic little diner that has been around since at least 1900 in some form or another. The original sales point was a lunch truck owned by Louis Lassen. According to the story the restaurant tells, in 1900, a rushed customer ran up to the wagon and demanded a quick lunch to go. Lassen took a bunch of steak trimmings from the regular steak sandwiches he sold, put them between two pieces of toast, and gave it to his customer, and the hamburger was born. 

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The honor of being the home of the hamburger was confirmed by the Library of Congress with the help of a member of the House of Representatives. Sorry, Hamburg.

Since then the lunch truck has evolved into a small restaurant that has been in the same location since the mid-1970s. But even as the restaurant has grown and changed, it continues to cook their burgers on strange, vertical stove towers that date back to 1898.

Today the restaurant still serves their burgers as it always has, with only cheese, tomato, or onions. They don’t have condiments so don’t ask. They invented the hamburger, they don’t have to be nice about it.

For more on Louis’ Lunch, visit Atlas Obscura!

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