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Patty Pioneers: From Classic to Cutting-Edge

Updated: Jun 6

Today is International Burger Day! Have you ever found yourself wondering where the hamburger comes from? It’s clearly a burger patty made from beef and yet we call it a ham-burger, so what’s going on here? How are we consuming nearly 50 billion hamburgers a year and yet we know so little about its history? Let’s see where it came from and where it’s gone by following this transnational thread to history and our future with the burger.


CLASSIC: AMERICA’S FAVORITE MEAL IS BORN

St. Louis World Fair, 1904, Library of Congress

(Photo from 1904 St. Louis World Fair, Library of Congress)


The hamburger has roots in both American and German culture and is often traced back to two points in history. In Hamburg, Germany there was a massive love for meats and the many ways of preparing it and with the great migration to America many of their culinary traditions were brought along. A man from Athens, Texas introduced one of his inventions to the St. Louis World Fair, and it was the first introduction of the hamburger to a wider audience.


THE VEGEBURGER

Packaging of the VegeBurger mix powder, 1982, Gregory Sams

(Packaging of the VegeBurger mix powder, 1982, Gregory Sams)


With the popularity of burgers ever growing, people with dietary or moral restrictions also wanted to be able to dish up a burger, and in 1982, VegeBurger released the first easily accessible veggie patty to the public, a very important step in burger history as since 2013 there are more than 7.3 million Americans that are vegetarian.


MEAT ALTERNATIVE BURGERS

Beyond Meat, Beyond Burger

(Beyond Burger, Beyond Meat)


With some arguing that looking for a protein alternative that looks and tastes like real meat is the epitome of irony, there is often a debate between vegetarians and vegans about the introduction of meat-alternative burgers. This brings us to our next chapter in the progression of the burger. There were still vegetarians and vegans that missed the flavor and the texture of meat, but did not want to compromise on their ideals and want to contribute to better sustainability. In 2009 Ethan Brown founded Beyond Meat with a mission of combating climate change, and developing the Beyond Burger, a burger that looks, cooks, and tastes like real meat but that is much more sustainable and climate friendly. A product appealing to not only vegans and vegetarians, but to those wanting to minimize their climate impact, especially with the rise of activism around sustainability. Here's the thing - By 2012 Beyond Meats had their first product hit the shelves, but the product has a big drawback - It is quite expensive to produce, making the product expensive and inaccessible.


CUTTING EDGE: CROSSOVER BLENDS™

Crossover Blends™, Crossover Meats

(Crossover Blends™, Crossover Meats)


This is where Crossover Meats comes in. In 2019 a Stanford University Scientist contacted Michelle Adelman, the founder of Crossover Meats. He found a way to make a burger patty that produces up to 50% less CO2 and requires 50% less land and 40% less water to make and on top of that, it tastes just like the lamb, beef and pork burgers everyone knows and loves, but it’s 100% real meat. By replacing the lean protein from beef with chicken breast you get a beef, pork or lamb patty that gives you a sustainable meat option, without any compromise on taste or texture. On top of that, the product can be produced at a competitive price, making it sustainable and accessible. This is the future.


In the late 1800’s German culture and American culture merged to create the first hamburgers, a journey that led to the invention of the VegeBurger in the 1980’s. The rise of mock-meat burgers followed in 2012, and Crossover Blends™ emerged in 2019 with new, cutting edge technology, revolutionizing our perception of meat and sustainability. From its humble origins in Athens, Texas, the burger perhaps unintentionally paved the way for a more sustainable America. We bit into it, and uncovered the history of the burger as we know it, but what will it look like in 50 years? 100 years? Or even 5 years! The burger is ever evolving, and America’s favorite meal with it.

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