This was strange to me. Although poppy seed hot dog buns were ubiquitous in Chicago, on my journey around the country, I’d never seen more than an occasional poppy seed hamburger bun. So I dug around a little bit, and indeed it’s true of many of the old-school North Texas hamburger spots: the Dallas burger joint chain Snuffer’s, which opened its first restaurant in 1979, uses poppy seed buns. Chip’s Old Fashioned Hamburger, opened in 1981, has them as well. As does Jake’s, a small burger chain that’s been around since 1985. The problem is: no one seems to know why exactly they do it.
My waitress at Keller’s didn’t know. “It’s just how we’ve always done it,” she said. A few calls around produced similarly evasive answers. I asked local food journalists, and though no one was quite sure, the best guess came from Nick Rallo at the Dallas Observer, who thought it might be an homage to "old German poppy seed-flecked pastry recipes."
In the end, it could just be a classic case of follow the leader. Keller's was a successful burger chain, it had poppy seed buns, so others followed suit and it became a trend. But still, it remains a mystery.
“WHAT ARE YOU AND YOUR POPPY SEED HAMBURGER BUNS HIDING FROM ME, DALLAS?” I shouted at the sky.
Somewhere over the trees, a crow cawed, but I think that was just a coincidence.