One of the most popular dishes at any American restaurant, the cheeseburger has been a staple of diners across the United States, with each state adding local ingredients and a regional touch that showcases just how universal a lot of American cuisine is.
However, there has been a long-running debate about the exact origin of the cheeseburger, much like the bizarrely lengthy history of the hamburger, with several potential origin points and fascinating stories behind them.
The hamburger, although technically having its origins in Ancient Rome, was popularised by the rise of cattle ranching and the way in which this made beef accessible for many Americans on an almost daily basis.
At some point in the 1920s, around the first surge in popularity for the hamburger sandwich, it became popular to add cheese to the burger, owing to how well it melted around the burger patty. However, what is less clear is the first person to do this.
One of the most probable suspects, however, is the young fry cool Lionel Sternberger in 1924.
When he was 16 and helping out at his father’s sandwich shop, Mr Sternberger tried out dropping a slab of cheese onto a hamburger that was sizzling on the grill, only to find that it melted rather pleasantly.
However, other restaurants have claimed that they were, in fact, the first to invent the cheeseburger.
The Louisville, Kentucky restaurant Kaelin’s claimed that they were the first to make a cheeseburger in 1934, even though O’Dells in Los Angeles had a menu with a cheeseburger on it as early as 1928.
The trademark for the “cheeseburger” name went to Louis Ballast, owner of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver, which could suggest that he had been using it long enough beforehand with enough exclusivity that he invented it, but it is also similarly possible that he was merely the first in Denver to sell it.