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May 18, 2007



I'd like mine medium-well

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Have you grilled the first hamburger of the season yet? If so, did you stop to think that this staple of many a family's summer diet still might not exist as a concept if it hadn't been for teenager Charles Nagreen of Seymour, Wis.? At least, that's what members of the state Legislature would have you believe. They've fired the latest salvo in a food fight with New Haven, Conn., and Athens, Texas, over which can rightly claim to be the birthplace of the ground beef patty. According to a resolution introduced by Rep. Tom Nelson (D), whose district includes Seymour, Nagreen came up with the idea in 1885 to modify the way cooked ground beef was sold at the county fair (on a stick). The young vendor flattened it betweenslices of bread and called it a hamburger. The idea caught on, and soon he was peddling his innovation at other county fairs, too. New Haven maintains that luncheonette owner Louis Lassen invented the burger in 1900 to satisfy a customer's request for a meal "to go." As for Athens, it claims that Fletcher Davis was selling meat sandwiches there in the "early" 1880s. But then Athens also is the Black-eyed Pea Capital of the World, so it at least has that to fall back on. Last year, the National Hamburger Festival decided to put the issue to an online vote, and Seymour won. No word on who first thought of pairing the burger with an order of fries.

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