Now, we all know that every day of our year holds something significant for our world – it’s such a busy and complex place in which to reside that it only makes sense that there would be a myriad of special events that have happened, and continue to happen each day. For instance, it was this day in 1961 that Dag Hammarskjold, UN secretary general, died in a plane crash. It was also today, back in 1793, when George Washington laid the foundation stone for the US Capitol. What you probably didn’t know is that today is also the US Air Force birthday! And Rice Krispies Treat Day! Tomorrow is almost as significant, as we will come together as the people of Earth to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Should be fun to be in church and hear the pastor say, “Garrr! The Lord be with Ye!” Oh, and tomorrow is also Wife Appreciation Day. Not quite sure what that entails, but I would bet it has to do with someone else fixing supper…
Back to today, however. Of all the commemorations, and remembrances, and holidays that could fill our calendar, on September 18th here in the United States, we are all called on a people to celebrate a grand occasion: National Cheeseburger Day.
I’ll bet you weren’t even aware of this significant commemoration for our national culture! When did this culinary masterpiece first come into being? Glad you asked. Actually, there is quite a fierce debate as to who is the true Father of the Cheeseburger. One thing we can be certain is that this creation is all-American, given our creative and exploring nature as settlers in the New World. Actually, it doesn’t go back quite that far. Kaelin’s Restaurant in Louisville, KY claims that auspicious honor, rolling back to 1934, when the cook wanted to give the burger a bit of a “tang” and so slid a slice of cheese on it as it cooked. They actually applied for the trademark in 1935.
But hold your hamburger horses! Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Restaurant in Denver actually first applied for the trademark name in 1930, a good four years before Kaelin’s dropped the cheese. AND –the debate rages even hotter, when we discover that in 1928, O’Dell’s restaurant in Los Angeles actually had a “cheeseburger” on the menu. AND! We can go back to 1926 – eight years before Kaelin’s, and report that Lionel Sternberger, working in his father’s restaurant, The Rite Spot, in Pasadena, California, put a slice of cheese on a burger to see what it would taste like. Of course, why else would you do it? He was probably a teenager, fooling around with the grill…
The discussion/debate/burger war continues to rage as to who was first – sort of like the thousand different restaurants in the country who brag about having “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee…” My job as a humble writer is not to crown the first cheeseburger inventor, but to share with you all the possibilities of where the genesis of this tasty meal arose.
So – how many cheeseburgers do you imagine you have eaten across your own lifetime? In the 95 years since it first sizzled onto the American scene, it has found its place in heart and soul (and cholesterol) of most Americans. In 1940, when McDonald’s opened its first shop, you could get a hamburger for 15 cents, and if you wanted to splurge, you could have a “tempting cheeseburger” for four cents more. By the way, in honor of today’s special day, you can go to McDonald’s and get a double cheeseburger for 50 cents. One per customer.
Being a child of the 60s, I would have to calculate my lifetime cheeseburger consumption to fall in the “thousands” category. That includes all the drive throughs, or the ones I ate at A&W with a root beer, or the sitdown meal at noon in any number of tasty spots. It also, of course, includes the ones that were non-commercial – Mom’s, fried on the top of the stove, or the ones that were charcoal broiled outside on the grill – even the ones that probably had more ash than beef, cooked over a campfire after we set up tents and burned up log after log to get a great bed of coals.
Now, I also have to admit that I am sort of a stranger in my own family when it comes to cheeseburgers. Three of us like a cheeseburger completely plain, or with a little ketchup or ranch dressing. “One” of us likes a cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, lettuce, grilled mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, and often other guest condiments as they show up on the counter. And I don’t like a cheeseburger that appears to have gone through the fires of hell, either. Not so much medium rare, but stick on the medium side. With food prep the way it is today, it can be a bit less gray than the olden days…
So, today we have covered cultural preferences, history of invention, personal tastes, and possibly a small bit of trivia. Makes reading this column something to anticipate, eh? By the way, the Guinness Record for world’s largest cheeseburger is held by the Black Bear Casino near Duluth, Minnesota, where in 2012, they produced a cheeseburger that weighed in at 2,014 pounds. Imagine what the basket of fries looked like!
Whatever you do in your life, do it intentionally, whether that is acting nobly or with valor, and simply using your creative thoughts to do something no one has done before – even something as simple as putting cheese on a burger. You’ll never know the impact you might make on an entire culture. There is so much more to be done for the first time. Enjoy the exploration, the discovery and the joy of doing something new!
Word for the day: nimiety. Pronounced ni-MY-eh-tee. It’s a great Latin word. Coming from nimietas, meaning “excessiveness,” from nimius “beyond measure, from nimus, “too much” and finally, ne+mis, meaning “not little.” Using the Latin underexpression of “not little,” all you are left with in nimiety is “excess, overabundance.” A three-year-old lives with a nimiety of talking – their little brains are connected with their vocal folds… “Nimiety” can very often be used as a criticism by those who believe that any excess is wrong; however, there are times in our lives when nimiety is the best avenue for expressing our supreme joy, or exhilaration in life.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.