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The Hamburger: A History (Icons of America) Paperback – May 26, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

For decades America took its beloved ground-beef-patty sandwich pretty much for granted, the only controversy concerning whether it should have a slice of cheese melted atop the meat. Thanks to the ubiquity granted it by America’s mobile culture, the hamburger’s hegemony is now threatened on both nutritional and economic fronts. Ozersky traces the well-documented history of the hamburger, debunking many of the myths surrounding its nineteenth-century origins. He gives special attention to the origins of the White Castle chain of burger drive-ins, showing how it anticipated many of the innovations most people ascribe to McDonald’s. Ozersky finds the hard-driving Ray Kroc, author of McDonald’s success, a contradictory character, at once valuing conformity yet gathering around himself creative minds to ensure McDonald’s marketplace dominance. Ozersky’s analysis of Burger King’s and Wendy’s differing strategies to make their burgers somehow distinctive within the American fast-food market makes for great reading. --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'This entertaining and informative book, which traces the burger's evolution from working man's snack during the Depression to symbol of American corporatism, is nothing less than a brief history of America in the 20th century.' The Economist 'The book is more than an overview of the sandwich; it is an impassioned argument for its significance in American culture and a celebration of its power.' New York Magazine 'A sexy little volume on the history of the patty from its 18th-century beginnings to its postwar boom thanks to White Castle.' Rachel Wharton, New York Daily News"
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Product Details

  • Series: Icons of America
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030015125X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300151251
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #978,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The history of the hamburger would seem to be a relatively mundane and fairly well known issue. If you thought that, as I did, you would be very mistaken. The history of the hamburger is much more complicated than simply the invention and selling of meat on a bun.

The author starts the book by debunking most of the current myths about how and who invented the hamburger. And, the author uses pretty strict criteria for what a hamburger is and is not. He puts to rest the claims of many of the people who claim to be the originator and comes up with a plausible explanation of how the burger was actually invented.

From that point, the author looks at the social implications, as well as the corporate structure that made the hamburger what it is today. How did McD's get started and how did a lowly piece of meat create one of today's largest corporations? You'll just have to read the book to find out. What happened to the company that started it all? And, no, that would not be McD.

The book, while relatively short, is well written and very readable. I enjoyed learning about the sides of the hamburger that I never knew existed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fairer to say a history of the fast food hamburger industry, Ozersky takes us through a whirlwind tour of the rise of the giants--White Castle (aka, patient zero) and the model they set that got picked up by McDonald's, emulated by Burger King, trashed by Wendy's. It's a fun ride to be had--Ozersky's wit and warmth will not disappoint.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Solid history, but unfortunately for every two goods pages of history you get three pages of his "social commentary" on the US, often with somewhat tenuous connections to the subject at had, namely hamburgers. For example, he rants about "Happy Days" being the most popular sitcom at one time--the connection being hamburgers were one of the items served at a restaurant in the show. Weak stuff. The actual history here can be read on sources like Wikipedia.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was an interesting book for someone who likes to read odd, extra information. My husband liked it. The only reason I gave it a 4 is bc he didn't finish it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good book, great insights into how the burger became an American Icon.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was very thorough about the history of the Hamburger.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just as described. Awesome. Loved it!
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