Do you remember the first time you ate a burger? Chances are, you don’t.
Embedded with nostalgia, typically associated with barbecues and gatherings, burgers are inarguably an American staple. And the options are endless. Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian, there are unlimited ways to prepare them, and different elements that arbitrarily make a burger truly great. Whether you judge a burger by its bun texture, protein juiciness, the toppings, or a combination of all three (including bun to patty ratio, of course), there’s one thing that’s certain: Burgers have become elevated to a higher standard over the years — not just in terms of things like sustainable, grass-fed beef or local sourcing (that, too), but chefs have also upped the ante on culinary creativity to one of the most customizable, classic menu items in the game.
You can see which inventive burgers are representing each state below, but first…
Biting Into Burger History.
The alleged first burger came to be when a man by the name of Charles Nagreen of Wisconsin placed two slices of bread around a slab of meat to make it easier for guests of his County Fair to eat while walking. This was in 1885. In 1921, White Castle was born when a real estate agent teamed up with cook Walter Anderson, inventing the first “modern burger,” which included ground meat patties prepared on a griddle with “a mess of onions on a soft yeast bun.” Nearly thirty years later, a little brand you may know of — Burger King — brought the burger to Miami.
Some of the culinary crusaders that brought burgers up to next-level status include Danny Meyer (Shake Shack), Tom Ryan (Smashburger), and Bobby Flay (Bobby’s Burger Palace), just to name a few. But there are tons of people reinventing burgers daily, including home cooks and self-righteous grill masters.
Burgers by State.
Taste of Home magazine recently compiled a list of the best burger toppings for each state. From Hawaii’s “Plate Lunch” burger, which involves scoops of macaroni salad atop a burger, to Maryland’s “By the Bay” — a dash of Old Bay seasoning and a splash of vinegar-based hot sauce mixed into some ‘slaw — there are definitely some inventive combinations in the mix. And what better way to celebrate the 4th weekend with two of our favorite things: verbal food porn and lists?
Enjoy. And happy 4th to those celebrating!
Alabama: George Washington Carver (peanut butter topped with bacon)
Alaska: Surf & Turf (topped with crabmeat, a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of cocktail sauce)
Arizona: Chipotle (chopped chipotles in adobo sauce, red onion and queso fresco)
Arkansas: Arkansas Sin (mix together softened cream cheese, shredded cheddar, chopped onions, diced ham and jalapenos)
California: Caesar (romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing and parmesan cheese on a sourdough roll)
Colorado: Denver Omelet (cover with fried egg and sautéed green pepper and onions)
Connecticut: New Haven-Style Pizza (spoon on tomato sauce with chopped garlic, dried oregano and grated Romano cheese)
Delaware: Holiday Burger (a turkey burger, topped with mayo, stuffing and cranberry sauce)
Florida: Cuba Libre (stir lime juice, a pinch of zest, a dash of Coca-Cola and a little rum into your bbq sauce. Then douse your burger)
Georgia: Peach & Vidalia (dressed with mayo, fresh sliced peaches and sautéed Vidalia onions)
Hawaii: Plate Lunch (spread a scoop or two of macaroni salad on your burger)
Idaho: Yo Potato (kettle-style potato chips and onion dip sandwiched between a potato roll)
Illinois: Italian Beef (load on the giardiniera and serve on an Italian roll)
Indiana: Breadbasket (two slices of wonder bread, potato salad and Sechler’s pickles)
Iowa: Corn & Blue (sprinkle fresh corn kernels, maytag blue cheese and pickle relish on your burger)
Kansas: Yellow Brick Road (slather a whole-wheat bun with yellow mustard and add lots of melted yellow brick cheese)
Kentucky: Hot Brown (Layer on crispy bacon, thick slices of tomato and grated Pecorino)
Louisiana: Hot Burger (slap on some mayo mixed with creole seasoning and a bit of tabasco)
Maine: Lobster Roll (top your burger with chunks of lobster mixed with mayo, celery seed, and salt and pepper. Don’t forget to butter and grill your bun!)
Maryland: By the Bay (a dash of old bay seasoning and a splash of vinegar based hot sauce mixed into coleslaw)
Massachusetts: Baked Beans & Onion (Ladle hot baked beans and caramelized onions between toasted slices of Boston brown bread)
Michigan: Cherry Cheddar (topped with Pinconning cheddar and a spoonful of tart cherry jam)
Minnesota: Juicy Lucy (stuff American cheese between two thin patties before grilling)
Mississippi: Slugburger (replace bread crumbs with potato flakes, then deep-fry the patty—this burger cost a nickel, or “slug”, in the 1900’s)
Missouri: Toasted Ravioli (serve with plenty of the toasted ravioli famous in the Hill area of St. Louis, finished with plenty of marinara)
Montana: Double Burger (stack two patties between three cheeses)
Nebraska: The Reuben (Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and sauerkraut. Rye bread for bonus points)
Nevada: Vegas Martini Burger (mix a touch of vodka into mayonnaise, then spread on buns with a dotting of green olives)
New Hampshire: Poutine (topped with French fries, cheese curds and brown gravy)
New Jersey: Italian Sub (sprinkle with lettuce, tomato, onions, oil and vinegar, and oregano. Lay it all on quartered, foot-long rolls)
New Mexico: Green Chile (topped with smoky cheese and chopped green chiles)
New York: Deli (horseradish cream sauce, pastrami and mustard)
North Carolina: Carolina BBQ (douse with a vinegar-based BBQ sauce, slaw and pickles)
North Dakota: Flying Style Pizza Burger (smother with mozzarella, pizza sauce and Italian seasoning, all on toasted white bread)
Ohio: Chili (spoon on Cincinnati chili and cheddar cheese)
Oklahoma: Onion (load sautéed onions and American cheese, all on an onion bun)
Oregon: Jam & Cheddar (first a spoonful of marionberry jam, blanketed in Tillamook cheddar)
Pennsylvania: Primanti’s Style (thick-sliced Italian bread, with fries, oil-and-vinegar coleslaw and tomatoes)
Rhode Island: Hot Wiener (sprinkle with celery salt, yellow mustard, chopped onions, and hot wiener, best served on a steamed bun)
South Carolina: Fried Green Tomato & Pimento (cover with fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese, layered on a big biscuit)
South Dakota: Fry Bread (load up all the toppings you want, just serve it open-faced on fry bread, the state’s official bread)
Tennessee: Jack D (mound burger with pulled pork and a little Jack Daniels whiskey, with just a little cayenne pepper)
Texas: Big Brisket (Pile on the brisket and go big with Texas toast)
Utah: Crown Burger (add pastrami, cheese, tomato, lettuce and thousand island dressing)
Vermont: The Vermonter (thinly sliced Granny Smith apples and Vermont cheddar cheese)
Virginia: Virginia Ham (stack on salty, smoky ham slices and a smear of honey mustard BBQ sauce)
Washington: Toppings & Tots (spoon a mix of mayo, mustard, relish and salad dressing on your burger. Include a side of tater tots)
West Virginia: Chow-Chow (dollop burger with your favorite jarred chow-chow, the crunchy vegetable relish)
Wisconsin: Pretzel & PBR (slather a pretzel bun with butter and top your burger Widmer’s cheddar and onions sautéed in Pabst Blue Ribbon)
Wyoming: Bison (swap in bison burger and top with hash browns, sour cream, cheddar cheese and thinly sliced green onions)