Global Perspective on Fast-Food History
The cheeseburger is more than just the sum of is parts. Many components have been combined to make other foods. For instance, raised bread appears to have been first made in ancient Egypt. Raised bread requires high concentrations of yeast added to flour dough. The technique was perfected in the ancient Mediterranean and passed subsequently to northern Europeans. Cheese, the combination of milk and rennet, was a prehistorical creation in the Middle East. Greeks, Romans and other Mediterranean peoples made cheese in a variety of ways, and they passed on these techniques to their successors. Many different types of cheese are available today.
Ketchup, originally a Chinese word (ke-tsiap) meaning a fermented fish or soy sauce, was extensively used in Southeast Asia. The British encountered the sauce in Indonesia and tried to duplicate it upon returning home. Early 18th century ketchups were composed of anchovies, walnuts and mushrooms. Ketchup's main claim to fame was its purported longevity. It could survive for months or years after bottling. British and American cooks experimented with a variety of ingredients, one of which was tomatoes. Tomato ketchup did not become an important condiment in the United States until the late 19th century.
Mayonnaise is a combination of olive oil and egg which probably originated in Roman times. The word mayonnaise is derived probably from the French language in the mid-18th century. The French redeveloped the condiment and introduced it in the United Kingdom and subsequently into the United States. Many different types of mayonnaise are produced today. Vinegar dates from prehistorical times in the Middle East. It is the result of fermenting grapes and other fruits. Vinegar began as a byproduct of ancient wine production. It was common throughout the ancient Mediterranean world and was imported into the Americas by European colonists. Mustard--a combination of mustard seeds with vinegar--was a condiment used by the Romans, but apparently disappeared with the fall of Rome. The French re-introduced the combination during the Middle Ages. Mustard was introduced shortly thereafter into the United Kingdom, and was a product brought by English and French colonists when they settled in the New World.
Ground beef has been consumed since prehistorical times in Europe. The word "hamburger" was first used in Hamburg, Germany in the 18th century, to refer to a particular type of sausage. The combination of hamburger with bread was a British creation. Several late 19th century claims locate the invention of the hamburger in America. Hamburgers were purportedly served at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. They were occasionally eaten at fairgrounds, amusement parks, carnivals and ballparks; hamburgers were also served at some diners, luncheonettes and restaurants. Their major success dates back to the 1920s when fast-food establishments began selling inexpensive burgers. Fast-food chains became even more important after World War II.
Likewise, several products are combined to make up soft drinks. Carbonated water is a naturally occurring combination of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. It did not become an important commercial product until the 19th century when it was combined with fruit syrups. Soda fountains proliferated in drugstores and later other commercial establishments during the late 19th century and early 20th century in America.
Although the kola nut was originally a product of West Africa, its
combination with soda water and sugar originated in the United States. Coca
leaf is a narcotic chewed by natives of South America and used as a flavoring
in many late 19th century beverages, including colas. Its use was outlawed by
the Food and Drug Act of 1906. Today, spent coca leaves (without the active
narcotic ingredient) are used in the manufacturing of some colas. The first
cola, Coca-Cola, was invented in 1886 by the Atlanta druggist John Pemberton,
who considered it a medicine. It was at first served in drugstores and later in
soda fountains and ice cream parlors.