Birth of the Hamburger
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Youtube Instagram Blog

Sign up for email updates from Erie County Agricultural Society

Home > Guest Info > About The Fair > Birth of the Hamburger

Birth of the Hamburger

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

“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” after the Erie County Fair’s home town of Hamburg, New York.

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, was held September 16th-18th, 1885.

Join us on Facebook for more information and news about National Birth of the Burger Day: /www.facebook.com/BurgerBirthday/

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.
Photo of Frank and Charles Menches
The inventors of the hamburger at the 1885 Erie County Fair: Frank Menches ( July 16, 1865 - Oct 4, 1951) and Charles Menches ( June 10, 1859 - Dec. 4, 1931)
Photo of Steven Walters, Tom Moses and Marty Biniasz
The Erie County Fair's Marty Biniasz accepts official "National Birth of the Burger Day" proclamations from Town of Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters and Town of Hamburg Mayor Tom Moses on Monday, September 18, 2017.
Photo of ECAS President Earl W. Henry and Secretary Paul C. Laing.
Enjoying a hamburger in front of the 1885 Octagon Building circa 1980. ECAS President Earl W. Henry and Secretary Paul C. Laing.
Photo of burgers with birthday candles
The inaugural "National Birth of the Burger Day" was celebrated on Monday, September 18, 2018. This included the presentation of an oversized hamburger prepared by the culinary staff of Hamburg Gaming.
Newspaper article on the Birth of the Burger
The Celebration of the inaugural National Birth of the Burger Day was celebrated by many of our media partners, click on their logo for the story..
Birth of the burger day graphic
September 18th is National Birth of a Burger Day! The day commemorates the invention of the hamburger sandwich that took place during the 1885 Erie County Fair by Frank and Charles Menches of Canton, Ohio.
WBEN Logo
News 4 Logo
WKBW Channel 7 Logo
Back to
Top