New Jersey is home to Thomas Edison’s workshop and Minnesota, has the “My Pillow” guy.
Seymour, Wisconsin, however, stakes its claim to perhaps the most important invention in a nation of creators. Hamburger Charlie’s handy work has fueled America ever since, and this weekend, it’s again time for celebration.
Revelers will gather in Seymour for Burger Fest — an annual party in recognition of the hamburger’s invention there in 1885.
A quick Google search would offer you other stories on the genesis of the great American delicacy. Seymour folks would firmly tell you those other claims are nothing-burgers topped with a heaping helping of BS.
So as to our hometown narrative?
In the beginning, a 15-year-old Hortonville boy with a mind for marketing switched things up after his meatball stand was performing poorly at the Seymour fair. Charlie Nagreen figured a portable food would do better, so he scored some bread, smashed a meatball in between slices and added onion.
It was similar to the Hamburg steak and knowing the strong population of German immigrants, he called it a hamburger.
It took off. Hamburger Charlie went on to sell them at the fair for 65 years.
It sounds reasonable to me.
However, if you Google “hamburger invention,” one Louis Lassen tops the list of list of results. That particular origin story places the grand moment in Connecticut in 1900. Wikipedia offers a number of claims.
Seymour historians say their story has backing whether it was an interview with Emil Wurm, who worked with Charlie from 1917 to 1923 or a 1947 Appleton Post article.
If love burgers, there’s no better place to be this weekend than Seymour.
Burger Fest kicks off tonight with a hot air balloon rally. Organizers will significantly beef up their festivities on Saturday morning.
Saturday begins with the 8 a.m. Bun Run. Collectors will arrive for a car show and at 11 a.m., revelers will gather at the curb for perhaps the world’s only burger-themed parade. There’s a burger eating contest at 2 p.m. and an hour later, the festival will serve up hunks of their 200-pound hamburger.
At 4:30 p.m., things will get sloppy as fest-goers careen down the giant ketchup slide. A change of clothes is recommended for the sake of your car’s interior.
Nothing goes with a burger better than live music.
It begins at 2 p.m. with Franks Tribute Presents: Elvis.
Saddlebrook takes the stage at 4 p.m. and Vic Ferrari will wrap up the night with a concert from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
As for Seymour’s claim? It’s certainly plausible. In recognizing that any jackass could have put ground beef on bread at any point over human history, the Seymour story carries an important distinction.
They say Charlie was the first to use the term “hamburger.”
At day’s end, the question of where the hamburger was invented is less consequential than the miracle that it was. The ground beef pucks went on to sustain our nation and there are few other foods so worthy of a weekend party.
Because of the hamburger, I am heavier; check that — happier than I otherwise would be.
And bring your ketchup-sliding clothes.