Philadelphia Burger Week: A Brief History Of The Burger In Philly
Pass the ketchup: It's a Philly burger timeline
Just because The City of Brotherly Love is most often identified with a different meaty creation doesn’t mean that it can’t have an impressive hamburger past (or that the two shouldn’t be combined into a single item). Philadelphia has experienced its share of memorable burger moments over the years, and the city has certainly garnered national recognition lately for its dressed-up patties and well-attended festivals. From the Hamburg steak to the foie gras-stuffed, here is a timeline of Philly – and one nearby – burger history.
Henry John Heinz, founder of the H.J. Heinz Company, produces the first commercial ketchup in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. The condiment immediately becomes a common accompaniment with the “Hamburg steak,” a precursor to today’s hamburger.
Philadelphia’s first White Tower Burger is opened. In the following 24 years, 16 others are constructed, all situated along public transportation lines in centers of high employment. Alas, the chain that famously sold burgers for five cents during the Great Depression eventually closed all its locations as workers turned to the automobile.
Advertising itself as “home to America’s craziest burgers,” a popular restaurant opens in the Northern Liberties neighborhood. The menu includes a chocolate-covered bacon burger served on a glazed donut bun, and their “burger of the week club” recently featured a spaghetti burger. Ramen burger what?
It was only a matter of time. Seeking to incorporate Philly’s most storied food item, local branches of a national fast food chain unleash a cheesesteak burger. The heart attack on a plate consists of thinly sliced steak on top of a charbroiled burger patty topped with peppers, onions, Swiss and American cheeses and mayonnaise.
Who says that veggie burgers are dead? A New York Times article about Philly’s historic Germantown area recommends a Maplewood Mall spot for its irresistible veggie burger, citing it as “where the locals go.”
The Philadelphia Burger Brawl is conceived. The annual event pits the city’s top burger joints against each other in competition format with proceeds helping fund and develop functional computer labs for local public schools.
Le Bec-Fin, widely considered the city’s most esteemed restaurant, shuts its doors after 43 years of business. Gone is the French institution’s $15 “express lunch” burger, considered a bargain by most, as well as its foie gras-butter stuffed patty. Residents’ waists subsequently begin to shrink.
Not to be outdone by its rivals to the North, a Philly noodle bar hosts a one-night-only ramen burger pop-up. No word yet on if the wait times exceeded three hours.
Citizens Bank Park, home to the Philadelphia Phillies, is voted “most friendly vegetarian ballpark” for the third year in a row. The main reason? Multiple concessions stands dishing out different versions of veggie burgers.
Hosted by Philadelphia Magazine and presented by Amstel Light, the official beer of the burger, the first annual Battle of the Burger takes place downtown. 25 of the city’s best chefs are on hand to serve burgers.
This post is brought to you by our friends at Amstel Light
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