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A Brief History of the Cheeseburger: How This North American Favorite Was Invented

Written By Radha Mathur 19 Dec 2022
A Brief History of the Cheeseburger: How This North American Favorite Was Invented

Who doesn't love a cheeseburger? This American classic is a favorite for BFFs of all ages and backgrounds. Think of it as the Taylor Swift of sandwiches 🧣. 

But where did the cheeseburger come from? And how did it become so popular? In this blog post, we’ll serve up a plate of burger history to satisfy your hungry mind. 

The First Cheeseburger

Cheeseburgers are everywhere. We're not complaining, but this does make it tricky to find a starting point. Where and when did this magical creation begin? It depends on who you ask. 

One popular origin story starts in New Haven, around 1900. Louis Lassen opened a steak sandwich food cart which would later evolve into Louis Lunch (a sit-down burger restaurant). The story goes that one of Lassen's customers asked for something quick to eat, and Lassen had the brilliant idea of slapping steak trimmings between two pieces of bread. Voilá– the world was never the same.

While this is a sweet story– and Connecticut-ers will swear by it– turns out there are a lot of others like it.  From New York to Hawaii, many claimed to be the OG burger makers.

But, it seems like the closest we can come to tracing a true beginning for the burger is something called the hamburger steak. Around the 1870s, it started popping up on menus. It was a minced beef patty made from cow meat that came from Hamburg. Given that they were often served at restaurants that also served sandwiches, the shift from a classic steak to a steak between buns seems pretty natural. Soulmates find each other.

Modern Variations

We've come a long way from the hamburger steak. Crispy, thick, miniature– you got options, bae.

- Smash burger

A smash burger is a cheeseburger that is made by smashing the meat patty down on the grill. This creates a crispy outer crust and a juicy, tender inside. At BFF, this is how we make all our beef cheeseburgers. Whether you're craving a classic American burger or a spicy burger with jalapenos, we'll get you smashed 😉. If you're extra hungry, you can even enjoy stacked smash burgers in the BFF 2.

- Pub burger

As the name suggests, these burgers are popular at your classic pub or dive bar. This is a no-nonsense cheeseburger, usually with a thick patty (8 ounces or more) that's broiled to perfection. Served with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and french fries, it's a reminder that the burger's beauty is sometimes in its simplicity 👨‍🍳.

- Slider

Sliders are more than mini cheeseburgers. A small ball of beef is smashed into the griddle and cooked along with onions. Then, the steaming onions are added on top of the cooking burger along with the bun. While the patty continues to cook, the savory flavor of the onion is absorbed by the patty and bun for that extra ~spark~ of flavor. Most burger restaurants will serve these in twos or threes. The more the merrier.


Next time you enjoy a cheeseburger, you can think of it as chewing on a bit of history.  From the hamburger steak to the smash burger, cheeseburgers have been around for over a century and they aren't going anywhere (but into our bellies).

Try a Smash Burger at BFF

If our brief history got you hungry, there's no need to search "burgers near me" because we've got just the spot: At BFF we cook up all different types of delicious smash burgers. And, we aren’t your typical burger n’ fries joint. Our food helps to remove barriers and unite people from different backgrounds over memorable and nostalgic flavors. With quality ingredients and creative combos, we aim to be your (tastebuds’) BFF. Stop by one of our locations in Ottawa or Toronto. 

Order takeout or delivery directly through our website, and tag us in pics of your fave BFF foods @burgersnfriesforever.