If this was a heavyweight fight, the defending champ would be Matt’s Bar. Matt’s explains that it came up with the burger in 1954 when a customer asked for “two hamburger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle." As to why a customer would make that request, no one I asked at the bar seemed to have any idea. The closest explanation came from a random patron next to me, who leaned over and said, "He was probably just a pain in the ass."
Either way, as legend has it, after biting into the burger, that pain in the ass exclaimed ‘that’s one juicy Lucy.’” And apparently -- because this was the '50s and that was the dirtiest thing anyone had said in Minnesota in years -- the name stuck. As for how they lost the “i”, they claim that the original sign had a typo and they didn't feel like getting another sign made, so they rolled with it. And to those who might attempt to eat a Lucy somewhere else, Matt’s offers a warning: “Remember, if it’s spelled correctly, you just might be eating a shameless ripoff!”
The contender/spelling bee champ/recipient of Matt’s ire in the Juicy Lucy debate is the 5-8 Club. Originally a speakeasy in the '20s, 5-8 sits 4.2 miles south of Matt’s on Cedar Ave, just over Lake Nokomis across a parking lot from the Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church and down the street from Fat Lorenzo’s, a place I’m pointing out for no other reason than its amazing name. 5-8’s claim to the title is murky. In its history section on its site, the story about the Juicy Lucy’s origin is merely a timeline in which the “1950s” section has a blue ribbon with 1st on it and says “The Juicy Lucy, a home grown hero, was born.”
But enough "facts." I just wanted to see which was more delicious (as part of my larger Minneapolis/St. Paul Burger Quest), so I spent the final Tuesday in August partaking in Matt’s and 5-8 Club one after the other, to try and collect more information and eat the burgers. Oh -- also, because I have family in Minneapolis and he happened to be around, I brought my dad.