Hello Summer! America Loves Burgers

buffalo bison burger Why does America love burgers?

Why are burgers considered so very American?

What does our love of the burger say about us?

I could easily adopt the burger attitude of the moment and rail against the burger. I could make all the heart attack on a bun jokes that are so trendy right now. But I am not gonna.

Because I love a good burger.


Lest you think that I am some sort of fallen foodie. Let me remind you that Julia Child had an In-N-Out Burger delivered to her hospital room after recovering from surgery and Thomas Keller is flipping burgers in Napa County at Ad Hoc now.

So you see burgers are an American Institution whose power lies in it’s iconoclasm and it’s decidedly simple virtues. In other words, a burger is iconic simplicity. Which is the same as “mom and apple pie” in my book.

So I do understand that burgers have a well-deserved place in American folklore. And I can believe that the humble hamburger really does say something about being an American.

Burger King Comercial 1977And no matter where I go in my life as a proud citzen of America and a proud citizen of the world. No matter what foods I will encounter. There will always be a little bit of that 7 year old boy peeking under the bun to make sure my mom didn’t slip anything sneaky onto my hamburger.

To sum it up a burger says road-trip, and a road-trip is quintessentially American.  A burger makes me think about long past backyard BBQs and my parents drinking beer out of a can. And of course childhood treats to Burger King, where we just might (if we were very, very quiet in the car) get to order a vanilla shake. Where they always had those twirly stools. You could sit and spin and look out over the parking lot to the sound of your mother saying “I am going to count to three. One, Two, Two and A Half…”

Still, unbeknownst to me, by the time I was a kid the burger had already started is long slow slide. The Burger King of my youth could not hold a candle to the Bob’s Big Boy of the 1950s. But I still notice myself getting very, very quiet in the car whenever I run across some old remembrance of the place. “One, Two, Two and A Half…” Like this 1970’s commercial for Burger King that seems to have understood (even then) that America loves burgers. Click here or on the BK logo above to watch the video.

But really good burgers are getting harder and harder to find.  And that’s because really good burgers do not come from drive-through windows.

Drive-through windows have ruined burger joints. Well, so have all the chemical additives. Those burgers have become down right scary. It’s a crying shame.

It’s so hard to get a good burger now, even when you go to a quality burger joint. Just try and order the burger rare. I actually had to sign a waiver on a Princess Cruise once when I insisted on having my burger properly cooked. And by properly I mean bloody rare of course.

So if you love a good burger how do you replace those iconic drive-ins of years past? Sonic Burger, Dicks, and In-N-Out
all claim to hold on to the traditional American burger. But you know what? They may be better than what the other places have morphed into. But they still miss the mark.

horseradish buffalo burgerI think the only way to hit the mark is make your burger at home.

So to honor the advent of summer, and America’s love of the burger, I am doing nothing but burgers this week.

Everyday a different burger. They may not be your ideal, traditional burger exactly. That dinosaur don’t dance no more.

So you may find yourself aghast at what I have lined up. But I promise you; all these burgers will have one thing in common. They’ll help you remember why America loves burgers.

I am going to start with a fairly traditional burger. It’s got cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and mustard. All the usual suspects. But this is a Horseradish Buffalo Burger. Bison meat is naturally leaner than beef. So I suggest you make your burger a bit thicker than usual and be careful not to overcook it. I am also adding a bit of moisture to the meat with just a hint of horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Again to make up for the lack of fat.  And, oh yeah… it’s on an English Muffin. Is that unforgivable?

I admit it’s not quite a Whopper but it’s a burger done my way. So click on over to the full recipe and let’s get this (burger) party started. Anybody have a beer– in a can?


Greg Henry