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 11, 2007
Ranchburger (ranch house)

A “ranchburger” might be a hamburger served with ranch dressing. In the housing industry, a “ranchburger” is a ranch-style home that seems “cookie-cutter,” like hamburgers. “McMansion” is a later, similar term for a more expensive modern home.


Urban Dictionary
ranchburger
a blandly rendered cookie-cutter style of American house, which is found primarily in suburban american towns.
That subdivision is full of ranchburgers, I need to live someplace with some soul.
by j.tonic Feb 16, 2005

Word Spy
ranchburger n. A traditional, one-story ranch-style house, particularly one in a suburban development where the surrounding houses have a similar design. Also: ranch-burger, ranch burger.

Example Citation:
Such Ox-Bow incidentals are to be expected in this “back porch country” of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle region, now mostly hardscrabble and pocked with more characterless “prefab ranchburgers” than in its renowned oil-rich or cattle country days.
—Gordon Hauptfleisch, “Hogman, Pass By,” The San Diego Union-Tribune, December 15, 2002

Earliest Citation:
What has the ‘’modern’’ stolen from the average house? And is it comfort that is missing? I cannot think so. What, instead, has been scorned for some time is any serious consideration of bourgeois taste. The architectural historian and critic Colin Rowe called one favorite design ‘’the ranchburger,’’ and now such buildings get from the critics little better than bites.
—William H. Gass, “Making ourselves comfortable,” The New York Times, August 3, 1986

Notes:
Kell Pollard sent me this word, and noted that the name comes from those ubiquitous ranch houses (also called ranchers or ramblers) that, in neighborhoods around the country, have been “replicated with the zeal of McDonald’s hamburgers.” I’m lovin’ it!

(Oxford English Dictionary)
ranch, n. 
orig. U.S.
1. a. A hut or house in the country.
1808 PIKE Sources Mississ. III. (1810) 254 When we arrived at the Ranche, we soon had out a number of boys, who brought in the horse. 1867 DIXON New Amer. iv. (ed. 6) 42 A white frame houseon this side of the river called a ranchpeeps out..from beneath the foliage.
1. b. A single-storey or split-level house.
1960 ‘E. MCBAIN’ Killer’s Payoff xi. 111 Some real estate agent had decided to give the title ‘ranch’ to any house that had all of its living space on one floor. 1965 H. HOOD in Tamarack Review Winter 12 Our house was the first California-redwood ranch in the town of Mount Royal. 

Google Books
Design and the Production of Houses
by Burnham Kelly
New York: McGraw-Hill
1959
Pg. 97:
He has generally been responsible for developing, or at least adopting, the prototypes of our variously styled and built present-day houses, be they Georgian, Cape Cod, contemporary, or even ranchburger.

Google Books
As I Was Saying: Recollections and Miscellaneous Essays
by Colin Rowe
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
1996
Pg. 31:
In effect, they were designs for dinky little ranchburgers, with a miserable entourage of hollyhocks, delphiniums, etc.

Google Books
Across the Open Field: Essay Drawn from English Landscapes
by Laurie Olin
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
1999
Pg. 189:
These transplanted American ranch-burger houses clearly represent a dream of a world of comfort, central heating, appliances, and modernity to an enormous number of people in Europe and the rest of the world.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, February 11, 2007 • Permalink