"The hamburger, despite its foreign origins, is undeniably American," Jensen said. "Like so many other sandwiches, this gained fame in the early 20th century, as a quick meal for the working class, at stands outside factories or nearby diners." These diner burgers were the natural progression of early meat sandwiches eaten by immigrants around the turn of the century.
By the time McDonald's opened its arches in '55, most of America was familiar with the hamburger. And over the next few decades, Mickey D's express burger outposts would only solidify the burger as a food of the masses.
"The hamburger is a meal in one hand," Warner said. "That's a beautiful thing."
"Burgers really represent the democratization of dining out," Elias said. "Its rise in popularity was indicative of a larger food movement. In the '20s, the lower classes started seeking out food, outside their homes. Burgers were a cheap and viable option that immediately captured the people's attention, and became an American staple."