The hamburger sandwich was born during a very busy lunch hour in a modes t New England diner at the turn of the century. Business was booming at the Louis ’ Lunch Wagon in the year 1900. The little New Haven, Conn., dinner was packed each and every day with customers drawn there by Louis Lassen’s tasty thin-sliced steak sandwiches.

When the leftover trimmings from the raw steak began piling up, Lassen had his first brainstorm: solving this problem—why not chop them, then shape them into a patty, broil the patty and serve them on a platter with a slice of onion and home fries? People liked them and the chopped steak platter soon rivaled the steak sandwich in popularity. Great idea.

However, now the diner bulged to overflowing each and every day. Another problem! Lassen found he didn’t have time every day to keep up with the demand for platters. The tasty steak sandwich was faster. “ Then he hit upon the idea of another sandwich,” his grandson, Kenneth C, Lassen, the present owner said.

“He told a customer who was in a hurry that he’d put a chopped steak patty between two pieces of toast------and the hamburger was born. The customer was delighted, told all his friends, and the hamburger sandwich quickly became the talk of the town, said Lassen, 58, the present owner of the family business, now called Louis Lunch. “The Louis’ Lunch Wagon hamburger was always very popular,” Lassen recalled. “We never had to advertise it.”

“The news of my grandfather’s invention spread by word of mouth until it forced us to enlarge the building.” On September 24, 1967, the lunch wagon had changed the eating habits of an entire nation was designated as a Historical landmark by the New Preservation Trust and New Haven Historical Society. “Louis’ Lunch Wagon’s claim to being the originator of the hamburger sandwich has been authenticated by more than 60 pages of research,” Mrs. Brenda Wisniewski, public information manager of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, reported on that recognition date.

Note: Although Lassen is officially credited with inventing the hamburger sandwich, hamburger or ground meat was eaten in medieval Russia. Sailors rom the German seaport of Hamburg popularized the dish and gave it its name. Lassen was the very first, however, to put the hamburger in a sandwich, thus masking it portable.

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