“1885 Style Burger” On Menu to Support Hamburg Palace Theater


In celebration of “National Birth of the Burger Day” on Wednesday, September 18th, Butera’s Craft Beer & Craft Pizza (32 Main Street, Village of Hamburg), will host a special “hamburger history” event from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. The evening will include a hamburger sandwich on the menu utilizing the original hamburger recipe that debuted at the 1885 Erie County Fair. The authentic recipe will be provided by John Menches of Canton, Ohio, great-grandson of hamburger co-inventor Charles Menches. In addition, author and culinary historian Chris Carosa will present two “hamburger history” talks during dinner (6-7p & 7-8p) where he will tell the story of the first hamburger. Carosa is the author of Hamburger Dreams – How Classic Crime Solving Techniques Helped Crack the Case of America’s Greatest Culinary Mystery.



John Menches will be bringing his family’s original recipe from Ohio and patrons will be able to dine on the actual Original Recipe Menches Brothers Hamburger at the event. “Ever since we discovered the original recipe nearly thirty years ago, we encouraged people to taste the original recipe Menches Brothers hamburger so it can be a standard by which all other burgers are judged,” says Mr. Menches.



A portion of the proceeds from the sales of both the original recipe Menches Brothers hamburger and the book, Hamburger Dreams, will be donated to the historic Hamburg Palace Theatre. The 93-year-old movie house, and Village of Hamburg landmark, is in desperate need of major physical upgrades that include roof repairs, the updating of the existing heating and air conditioning and bathrooms.



“National Birth of the Burger Day” commemorates the legend of the invention of the hamburger sandwich that took place during the 1885 Erie County Fair by Frank and Charles Menches of Canton, Ohio.





Wednesday, September 18th is National Birth of the Burger Day


Wednesday, September 18th is “National Birth of the Burger Day” The day commemorates the legend of the invention of the hamburger sandwich that took place during the 1885 Erie County Fair by Frank and Charles Menches of Canton, Ohio.



Why September 18th? Until the early 1920s, the Erie County Fair was held mid to late September or as late as early October to celebrate the agricultural harvest. The 1885 Erie County Fair, the event that saw the invention of the hamburger sandwich, was held September 16th-18th, 1885.


“Birth of the Hamburger in Hamburg” Canton, Ohio natives Frank and Charles Menches were food vendors at the 1885 Erie County Fair, also known as the Hamburg Fair. Legend has it that during the course of the Fair, the Menches ran out of their signature menu item of pork sausage sandwiches. Their local supplier, Hamburg butcher Andrew Klein, was reluctant to butcher more hogs during a period of unseasonable late summer heat and suggested to substitute the use of ground beef.  The brothers fired some up, but both found it dry and bland. They added coffee, brown sugar and other ingredients to create a unique taste. The original sandwiches were sold with just ketchup and sliced onions. With new found success with their beef sandwich, they christened it the “hamburger” sandwich after the Erie County Fair’s home town of Hamburg, New York.



Relishing in the Menches Success! There have been other claims made about the origin of the hamburger sandwich. As concessionaires traveled from one fair to another, it was common to emulate the success of other vendors and share “best practices.” As a result, they would make claims of their own as the “burger” made regional debuts:



  • October 1885 – After learning about the Menches success, fair concessionaire Charlie Nagreen claimed to have sold a meatball between two slices of bread at the Outagamie County Fair in Seymour, Wisconsin.
  • Late 1880s – Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas claimed to have invented the hamburger. According to oral histories he opened a lunch counter and served a ‘burger’ of fried ground beef patties with mustard and Bermuda onion between two slices of bread, with a pickle on the side. Davis later went on to sell the burger at the 1904 World’s Fair.
  • 1891 – Otto Kuase said he invented the hamburger in 1891 after he cooked a beef patty in butter and topped with a fried egg.
  • 1900 – Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch, a small lunch wagon in New Haven, Connecticut, is said to have sold the first hamburger and steak sandwich in the U.S. in 1900, 15 years after the Menches Bros.



Why the Erie County Fair Menches Hamburger Story “Cuts the Mustard”



  • The Menches Brothers 1885 claim is the oldest “birth of the burger” sandwich story in the United States.
  • No other invention story can stake a claim to why their sandwich is called a “hamburger,” our story can!
  • Descendants of the Menches Brothers have an original, handwritten burger recipe.
  • The Menches family is still in the burger business today. No other claim still has an operating restaurant serving the original recipe.
  • In the 1920s, carnival historian John C. Kunzog interviewed Frank Menches about his experience at the Erie County Fair. His detailed hamburger story was published in the 1970 book, “Tanbark & Tinsel.”
  • Successful entrepreneurs, the Menches not only claim hamburger history, but are also credited for pioneering the production of ice cream cones and creating “Gee-Whiz,” a caramel coated peanut and popcorn snack now known as Cracker Jacks.
  • The National Hamburger Festival is held annually in the Menches home town of Akron, Ohio. Restaurants from across the United States gather to pay homage to good ol’ Frank & Charles Menches.
  • Founded in 1985 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Menches Brothers invention, The Village of Hamburg hosts the annual BurgerFest and is one of the biggest annual events in the region.
  • The invention of the hamburger story is featured in an exhibit inside the Erie County Fair’s Heritage & History Center Museum. The display includes a child’s sized burger concession stand that allows kids to “serve up” play hamburgers.
  • News outlets around the globe including the BBC to Japanese national television have told the Erie County Fair story over the decades. The 1885 Burger Store, a restaurant in Taipei City, Taiwan, China, honors the Erie County Fair legend.



About the Erie County Fair – “National Birth of the Burger Day” is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society. Established in 1819, the Society is a private not-for-profit membership organization and is the oldest civic organization in Western New York. The mission of the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York State. The Fair strives to fulfill appropriate aspects of the agricultural, educational, entertainment and recreational needs of Western New York. (www.ECFair.org)