Brothers Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio, are also credited with inventing the hamburger — also, incidentally, in 1885. According to their family, the brothers created the classic while traveling to fairs throughout the country selling their popular hot sausage patties. At the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, the story goes, the brothers ran out of pork. As the weather was hot, local butchers weren't inclined to slaughter pigs, so the brothers were forced to buy beef instead.
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At the time, ground beef was regarded as taboo in high society — only for the underclass — so the Menches brothers worried the meat wouldn't sell at the fair, an upscale, white-glove event. Disappointed by its bland flavor, they added coffee, brown sugar, and other spices; put the beef patty between two slices of bread; and suddenly had a hit on their hands. Asked what they called their creation, the brothers reportedly looked to the sign for the Hamburg fair and dubbed it the "hamburger."
The family dug up an old recipe in 1991 and opened Menches Bros. Restaurant a few years later, serving 50 burger variations, and in honor of the two brothers, the city of Akron hosted a National Hamburger Fest for 12 summers. In 2006, the festival included a mock trial to determine who really invented the hamburger. In an unexpected twist, Hamburger Charlie won an online vote.
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