Hometown Tales Podcast

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Haven, CT - The First Hamburger

The Library of Congress lists Louis' Lunch in New Haven, CT as the birthplace of the hamburger.

The story goes; In the early 1900s a customer asked for a quick meal that he could take to go. Louis Lassen, the owner of the small luncheonette broiled a patty of chopped meat and slapped it between 2 slices of toast. And so we were given the hamburger. "Hamburg" style was what chopped meat was referred to because it originated in Hamburg, Germany. Naturally the term "hamburger" was an easy transition for Louis' creation.

Louis' Lunch still resides in New Haven, CT although it moved from it's original location. However, the grills are original. They are rack grills that actually hold the meat vertically then fold into the fire pit. The original hamburger was served without ketchup and hamburgers flame broiled today at Louis' maintain that tradition. Tomato & Onion are the only topping options.

Don't expect pleasantries or an extensive menu when you go. Step up to the counter, order and move along.

So now the official review. I went on my way to Newport, Rhode Island. Yeah, it was cool, a little dark dinky luncheonette place that invented the hamburger. How could it be bad? The burger was nicely flame broiled and good chopped meat. But no seasoning, nothing really too fancy. I'd recommend trying Louis' Lunch to say you did. But afterwards, I still wouldn't trade Louis' original hamburger for my pillowy bun-surrounded, ketchup-dripping, hunk of seasoned beef, cheese and lettuce. The current version of this classic invention still wins out.