Coffee and brown sugar blended into ground beef? It may not sound appealing but way back in 1885, the Menches brothers of Akron, Ohio claimed that this was part of the recipe for the world’s first hamburger.

Late 19th century American ground beef was an entirely different animal than that of today. The upper class refused to touch the stuff. It was regarded as the food of vagabonds and knaves. It’s 1885 in Erie County, New York, and Charles Menches and his brother Frank are at loose ends. They’ve had serious success vending pork sausage sandwiches at the Hamburg Fair near Buffalo; but they are so successful that they’ve run out of meat. With no one willing to butcher a hog in the heat of August they have to think fast.

Beef quickly enters their business equation.

Frank Menches resorts to using the dread substance, and when asked what in the Hell it is he is serving, he reportedly looked up at the sign for the Fair and said “this is the hamburger”

We spent hours combing the internet to gather the particulars of that now-storied sandwich. Here is the fruit of that labor.

Protein: All natural, hand patted, Texas beef patty via Branch Ranch in Plains, Texas (hormone and antibiotic free, verified natural) Certainly a big improvement over the meat of that era.

Seasoning: Coffee, brown sugar, salt and pepper

Cooking method: cast iron pan

Cooking medium: oil

Bread: White bread (the hamburger bun was not invented til 1916 by Walter Anderson of White Castle fame

Topping: leaf lettuce, tomato, onion

Condiment: mustard

Please eat this sandwich the way the inventor intended.

Pair with an order of handcut french fries or an order of handcut onion rings.

East Austin Burger Project goes live Sat June 8th at 7pm at Tamale House East eventbrite

Burger One on the menu:

Burger Two on the menu:

and next week we document the Texan who also claims to be the inventor of the form

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