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A cheeseburger is a hamburger patty with cheese, cooked and served in a million different ways.
Historians don’t know exactly where or when someone first imagined it. You’ll find cheeseburger on menus as early as the mid-1920s. But a restaurant named Kaelin’s in Louisville, Kentucky, lays claim to its invention, in 1934. It’s still on the menu there, made with American cheese, dressed with mustard in a potato bun.
Jerry’s Drive-In of Pensacola, Florida, opened in 1939 and added bacon to create the bacon cheeseburger.
On Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis, both Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club claim to have turned the concept inside out some time in the early 1950s. They serve a hamburger with a lode of hot melted cheese inside.
Itty-bitty sliders, first created in the lower Midwest in the 1920s, gained postage-stamp-size pieces of cheese after World War II.
Regional variations come in nearly as many forms as barbecue or chili. A few notable specialties include the cheesehead butter burger of Wisconsin, the steamed cheeseburger of central Connecticut, and the green chile cheeseburger of New Mexico. Columbia, South Carolina, boasts that it is home of the pimento cheeseburger, now popular throughout the Deep South. The winged cheeseburger, where the cheese oozes onto the griddle and becomes crisp petals around the meat, is known in both central Connecticut and Northern California.
American and cheddar are the most popular cheeses, followed by Velveeta and blue cheese. But nearly any kind of cheese that melts is a candidate.
Any and all condiments and garnishes are possible. Big ones served all the way usually are presented with a knife and fork or tightly wrapped in wax paper to hold everything together.
Just about anything that goes with a hamburger is a good companion except, perhaps, deep-fried cheese curds. Redundant! French fries, onion rings or tangled fried onions, fried pickles, even hushpuppies or fried okra all fill the bill. The common denominator among common side dishes is frying.