Hamburgers Began: What Did Americans Call Hamburgers During World War I?

what did americans call hamburgers during world war i?

During World War I, hamburgers were known by a different name in America. In an effort to distance themselves from the German origins of the food, Americans started calling hamburgers “liberty sandwiches” or “Salisbury steak.” This renaming was part of a larger wave of anti-German sentiment that swept through the country during the war.

The term “liberty sandwich” was meant to convey patriotism and support for American troops. It became a way for people to show their allegiance while enjoying a popular food item. The name change also served as a form of propaganda, reinforcing the idea that consuming these sandwiches was an act of supporting the war effort.

What Did Americans Call Hamburgers During World War I?

The Early Days of Hamburgers

When exploring the origin of hamburgers, it’s fascinating to delve into their early days. While the exact beginnings are somewhat debated, one thing is clear: the concept of ground meat patties has been around for centuries.

In the 13th century, Genghis Khan and his Mongolian warriors would eat a meal called “steak tartare,” consisting of raw minced meat. This dish eventually made its way to Russia, where it was known as “Steak à la Russe.” From there, it spread across Europe and became popular in German ports like Hamburg.

Hamburgers and World War I

During World War I, hamburgers gained popularity among American soldiers stationed in Germany. These soldiers were introduced to the deliciousness of ground beef patties served on buns by local street vendors in Hamburg. The simplicity and convenience of this handheld meal quickly won over the troops.

Upon returning home from war, American soldiers brought back their newfound love for hamburgers. They started seeking out places that could recreate these tasty treats stateside. As a result, hamburger stands began popping up across America, leading to an explosion in popularity.

The Popularity of Hamburgers in America

The Influence of World War I on American Food Culture

During World War I, American food culture underwent significant changes due to various factors. As the war necessitated rationing and conservation efforts, Americans had to adapt their eating habits and find ways to make do with limited resources. This led to the rise of certain foods that were both practical and economical, with hamburgers being one such example.

Shifts in Terminology during World War I

Interestingly, while hamburgers were gaining popularity during this time, they were not referred to as “hamburgers” by Americans. Due to anti-German sentiment prevalent during the war, people sought alternative names for this delicious sandwich. Instead, they often called it a “liberty sandwich” or a “salisbury steak sandwich.” These patriotic euphemisms allowed Americans to enjoy their beloved burgers while avoiding any association with Germany.

Patriotic Euphemisms for Hamburgers

The renaming of hamburgers reflected the strong patriotic spirit that permeated American society at the time. By using terms like “liberty sandwich,” citizens felt a sense of unity and support for their country’s cause. It was a way for individuals to demonstrate their loyalty and commitment while enjoying a tasty meal.

Despite the shift in terminology, the popularity of hamburgers continued to grow throughout World War I. They provided a convenient option for meals on-the-go and became synonymous with quick and satisfying sustenance. Their affordability and simplicity made them an ideal choice for soldiers stationed abroad as well as those back home who needed a quick bite between shifts or during lunch breaks.

In conclusion, during World War I, hamburgers gained immense popularity in America despite being referred to by different names due to anti-German sentiment at the time. The influence of the war on American food culture shaped not only what people ate but also how they referred to certain dishes. The use of patriotic euphemisms for hamburgers reflected the unity and support Americans felt for their country during this challenging period. The enduring appeal of hamburgers as a convenient and delicious meal option has continued to this day, making them an iconic part of American cuisine.


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