May is National Hamburger Month, and the industry hopes you'll forget all about last month, when a Utah man attracted publicity by claiming he had a 14-year-old
1 Americans eat an astounding 48 billion burgers a year, or about three per week per person. While burgers are pretty cheap, getting them to our table isn't. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, 6.5 pounds of greenhouse gases are produced to make one tasty quarter-pounder. Over a year, that's equal to 34 coal-fired power plants. If you were willing to give up one burger a week, it would be like not driving your car 350 miles.
2 When amateur pilots say they're going for "a $100 hamburger," they mean they're taking a short jaunt for pleasure, often winding up at an airport restaurant. The $100 refers to the cost of fuel to get there, not the cost of the burger.
3 People frustrated with their careers might take comfort in the fact that McDonald's mogul Ray Kroc was a late bloomer who didn't get into the hamburger business until he was past age 50. Before that, the Oak Park native was a soda fountain worker, ambulance driver, bordello piano player, stock-market board operator, cashier, paper cup salesman, radio DJ and milk-shake-mixer salesman.
4 The privately owned
5 Investment guru
6 When British
7 Marty's Hamburger Stand in west Los Angeles is "home of the combo" — that's a hamburger and sliced hot dog on the same bun.
8 One of the most memorable battles of the
9 The White Castle hamburger franchise, which claims to be the oldest, originated in Wichita, Kan., but it has a Chicago connection — its buildings were loosely modeled after the
10 In the quirky slang of short-order cooks, a hamburger was known as "choked beef" and "a grease spot." To cook one was to "brand a steer," and to add a slice of onion was to "pin a rose" on it. A less cheery term came from U.S. prisons, where a hamburger was known as a "Gainesburger," named after Gaines-burgers dog food.
SOURCES "Casell's Dictionary of Slang" edited by Jonathan Green; "Hash House Lingo" by Jack Smiley; "Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's" by Ray Kroc with Robert Anderson; "The Hamburger: A History" by Josh Ozersky; "Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food" by Andrew F. Smith; "Hamburger America" by George Motz; "Selling 'Em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food" by David Gerard Hogan; "The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life" by Alice Schroeder; Time; Los Angeles Times;
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.