Heads up, folks! Would you mind raising your hands if you had a cheeseburger a couple of Sundays ago? And no, I’m not moonlighting for some shadowy group that is prying into your personal eating habits.
But Sunday, Sept. 18 just happened to be National Cheeseburger Day, recognizing the all-American favorite burger. And since Americans eat 50 billion cheeseburgers every year, it was a pretty big deal.
Who actually invented the cheeseburger? Well, it’s pretty murky, there are lots of claims, and it’s safe to say nobody really knows for sure. But Louis Ballast of Denver, Colorado, had the smarts to trademark “Cheeseburger” in 1935.
On the northwest side of downtown Denver is a stone marker, placed in 1987, where the Humpty Dumpty Barrel, Colorado’s first drive-in once stood. The marker claims that this is where Ballast, the owner, created the cheeseburger in 1935. To bolster the claim legally, the monument states that the “Cheeseburger” trademark was registered by Ballast on March 5, 1935. But since we live in a litigious society, there’s at least a dozen of claims and counterclaims.
And so it’s time to move on to Jimmy Buffett, the undisputed cheeseburger proponent, and his “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
“Not zucchini, fettucini, or bulgur wheat, but a big warm bun and a large hunk of meat I like mine with lettuce and tomato Just a cheeseburger in paradise…”
According to Buffett’s Margaritaville website, the song came about from a boat journey Buffett took in the Caribbean eating nothing but canned food and peanut butter continually envisioning eating a piping hot cheeseburger. Finally arriving in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, he was surprised to find a restaurant serving American cheeseburgers.
And should you be interested, the Food Network dubs the cheeseburger at Au Cheval in Chicago the No. 1 burger in the country. It features three beef patties with a “perfect burger-to-cheese ratio.” But Chicago? Not exactly paradise…