Wait a minute--what? I always heard growing up that hamburgers originated in Germany. Cuz ya know, they have the city of Hamburg. Only makes sense, right? ;)

So I was astonished to learn today that, for more than 25 years, one of our own East Texas cities claims to have served the world's first hamburger back in the late 1880's. And if it's true, I wouldn't be at all surprised. We are Texans, after all.

So the story goes:

Get our free mobile app

Once upon a time, there was a little café right there at the Henderson County Courthouse run by a man nicknamed Uncle Fletcher. This man had a "special sandwich" he made which he decided to take with him to the World's Fair in 1904. (Oh wouldn't you just love to be able to go back and visit that fair? How fun.)

It was there at the Fair that Uncle Fletch's sandwich was called the "hamburger." Why that? Texas Monthly reports it was "apparently coined in derision by St. Louis citizens of Teutonic extraction who viewed as barbaric the culinary practice, native to Hamburg, Germany of devouring large handfuls of ground beef, sometimes raw."

OK, so there's the connection to what I heard as a child. Well. Sorta.

There was also an article referencing a reporter who attended the 1904 World's Fair and mentioned an "unknown vendor" was presenting a sandwich known as the "hamburger."

These two examples do seem like credible evidence to me. :)

Yet, other cities in the U.S. have sought to take credit as the inventor's of this quite beloved "special sandwich." Ok, fine--but did any of THOSE towns get validation from the McDonald's Hamburger University? (Wait, that's a thing?)

No. They didn't. But Athens did! 

So although if one delves deeply you can find at least reasonably credible arguments to the contrary. But, I haven't found any claims that seem to fully discredit Athens' proclamation of hamburger inventor. The strongest evidence appears to support it.

And now that you know the legend, you may be inspired to visit Athens (if you don't already live there) and try some of their hamburger offerings. They've got some delicious options to choose from. 

The Athens Burger Bar is highly rated, the food looks amazing, and the place itself looks like a hip place to hang out.

The Athens Burger Bar, Isis T, Yelp

We've also heard great things about Ole' West Bean & Burger. The burgers look amazing, but dude--check out the Chicken Fried Steak.

Ole West Bean Burger, Ashley B, Unsplash

Also, stop by Bensons Eats & Treats. OMG, again the burgers look incredible. But so does that Taco Salad and Oreo dessert. Whoa.

Bensons Eats and Eats, Buffy B, Yelp

and The Burger Barn, too. It is an actual adorable little red barn and the burgers look like EXACTLY what you're hoping to find when you're taking a road trip. Perfect.

The Burger Barn, Lloyd c, Yelp

Kudos to Athens. One more example of the awesomeness of East Texas.


30 Things We Love About Living in East Texas

A Photo Journey Thru Fredericksburg, Texas Hill Country