A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 19, 2008
Yankee Burger (hamburger with ketchup)

A “"Yankee Burger” is a hamburger (or cheeseburger) with ketchup. In most parts of the country, this is simply called a “hamburger” (or “cheeseburger"). However, many Texas restaurants serve hamburgers with mustard. A hamburger with mayonnaise (and without ketchup or mustard) is called a “Sissy Burger.”

The term “Yankee Burger” appears to be used almost exclusively in Texas and Oklahoma. There is a “Yankee Burger” citation (below) from 1961, but it is not clear from the description that this hamburger was served with ketchup. The next citation in print (found so far) is from 1996, but this citation mentions “Yankee Burger” in “my childhood lexicon.”


Lone Star Fajita Grill (Buffalo, NY)
BURGERS
One third pound of fresh ground chopped sirloin, charbroiled to order and served on a toasted roll.
Yankee Burger
Ketchup, mustard, onion, pickles w/cheddar cheese ... 3.00
Lone Star Burger
Mustard, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce & cheddar cheese ... 3.25

15 October 1961, Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, section 3, pg. 4, col. 1 ad:
YANKEE BURGER
WITH FRENCH FRIES (NO LIMIT) 25c
PATIO DRIVE INN

Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking
From: (Nancy Dooley)
Date: 1996/07/02
Subject: Re: DINNER ON THE 4th JULY - Suggestions wanted.

>From: (Sam Waring)
>Date: 01 Jul 96 23:02:59
>Subject: DINNER ON THE 4th JULY - Suggestions wanted.
>and sending it all back, then.  I’m inclined to believe that mayo on
>burgers was more a Southern sorta custom than anything else; burgers with
>ketchup on them, or ones missing the complement of lettuce-tomato-onion-
>pickle, or both, were “Yankee burgers” in my childhood lexicon.

But now that you’re growed up, don’t you put ketchup on your burgers just like those “Yankee burgers?” wink

I’m one of those mustard-pickle-onion folk (no ketchup allowed).  And for more elaborate burgers, they’ve got to have tomato, lettuce and cheese.

Google Groups: alt.food.barbecue
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue
From: “Jeff Edwards” Date: 2000/07/19
Subject: Re: Best Burgers? (Long..."Let me tell you about the best burger I ever had...")

Funny: here in Texas most of the old-timers consider it blasphemy to put ketchup on a hamburger.  I grew up referring to that as a yankee-burger. Mustard, on the other hand, is an accepted standard.  Visit the popular Texas chain Whataburger, and you always get mustard - no ketchup.  Ketchup is for fries only. 

BNET
‘Ultimate’ burgers in documentary are certainly, uh, quirky
Deseret News (Salt Lake City), Jun 8, 2005 by Valerie Phillips Deseret Morning News
I’d also like to someday try the Meersburger, made from ultra- lean Texas longhorn beef in Meers, Okla.
(...)
“Have it your way” is not an operating slogan at many of these places. It’s more like “My way or the highway.” At Louis’ Lunch, ketchup isn’t allowed. Customers at Dyer’s can’t have lettuce or tomato. Ask for mayo to go with a Meers longhorn burger, and the staff calls it a “sissyburger.” Ask for ketchup, and it’s called a “Yankee burger.”

A fitting sign at Meers sums it up: “Eat beef. The West wasn’t won on salad.”

Semicolon
Ways to be Texan
Posted by Sherry August 30th, 2005 in Texas.
(...)
8. Hot sauce. Texans eat hot sauce or jalapenos or picante sauce or pico de gallo or salsa on most everything: hamburgers, scrambled eggs, potatoes, tortillas, hot dogs, rice, beans, anything a Yankee would put ketchup on. My mom calls burgers with ketchup on them “Yankee-burgers.”

The Phrase Finder
Posted by ESC on January 28, 2006
Phrases I’ve collected recently:
(...)
COWBOY BURGER - Cowboy burger (with mustard), sissy burger (with mayo) and Yankee burger (catsup). Texan, 40s, relating phrases from a documentary. (Maybe: “Hamburger America” by George Motz?)

Jared and Mary’s Excellent Adventure
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Howdy y’all…
Jared and I are officially Yankees deep in the heart of Texas. We eat Yankee burgers (hamburgers or cheeseburgers with ketchup on them). We resist saying y’all and to be honest, I’m not always sure what it means.... 

Dallas (TX) Morning News - Dallas Cowboys
Posted by DougO @ 6:41 PM Mon, Jan 15, 2007
The New Haven version probably had ketchup on it, like most yankee-burgers, and thus is disqualified.

Homesick Texan
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Who cares where the burger was born?
(...)
EVille said…
Just where does Hamburg, Germany fit into the hamburger story? Or for that matter Frankfurt in the frank story? LOL.

Origin aside, for me growing up in Texas with Yankee parents there were always three distinctive variations of the common ground beef sandwich:
1) Yankee burgers consisting of a fat grilled patty, ketchup and sliced onion on toasted white bread. Yum!
2) Texas burgers, or drive-in burgers, consisting of one or two thin grilled patties, mustard, chopped onions, pickles, lettuce and tomato on a fluffy bun. Whataburger still does them this way. Yumm!
3) Fancy burgers with huge patties (a la Chilis), or lots of variations but all good. Mayonnaise is common with these. And chili. The best fancy burger though was at the Neiman-Marcus Zodiac Room, a simple grilled sirloin patty on French roll with mayo served with consomme and a popover. Yummm!

15 November 2007, Tulsa (OK) World, “Oklahoma 100: Meersburger” by Natalie Milkes, Lifestyle section, pg. F1:
You have to really want a Meersburger to eat a Meersburger.

But whether it’s a three-hour drive from Tulsa or an overnight flight from Japan (yes, Japanese tourists love the Meersburger, too), the first bite makes it all worth it.

At the Meers Store, near Lawton, burgers are served in tin pie plates with a fork, and unless there’s a special request, are topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and mustard. You can order it with ketchup or mayonnaise, but there’s no telling what they’ll say about you behind the kitchen door. Owner Joe Maranto calls burgers with mayo “sissy burgers” and burgers with ketchup “Yankee burgers.” A burger with mustard? That’s a cowboy burger. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, February 19, 2008 • Permalink