May is National Hamburger Month. Who knew that a specific month had been dedicated to honor the popular hamburger? There are more hamburgers eaten every year in America than any other food. So it only stands to reason that such a distinction be so honored to kick off the grilling season. 

To celebrate and honor this special occasion there will be several gala affairs featuring the burger — from communities to private backyard parties, grills will be red up across the USA.
Perhaps you’re looking for something special that your community or organization can do to get in on the action. If so I would like to introduce you to a convertible oven/ grill that is big enough to cook a 600 lb. hamburger, bun and all — that will feed approximately 2000 people.
This is one of a kind oven/grill that was “special ordered” by the Prescott Lions Club to use as a fundraiser and marketing tool. It is valued at approximately $10,000, and is sanctioned by the local Lions club to travel anywhere in the USA. For more particulars regarding the use of this oven/grill contact the Prescott Lions Club at [email protected].



Inside of Prescott Lions' Oven/Grill designed and built by Randy Kinneman.

Though the original oven idea was designed and built to bake a 12' apple pie, the prospects of cooking a “giant burger” inspired the group to send the oven back to the Lion Factory for a conversion makeover to a grill. The conversion is ideal, as the bun can be made in the oven and the hamburger on the grill. This is a phenomenon that has unlimited potential. Can you imagine the ambiance of a giant burger?

The oven/grill is just one of many good ideas that you might employ to celebrate National Hamburger Month. But as livestock producers I think it is important for you to capitalize on this opportunity to promote the beef industry.

The following information should help your cause:

  • The burger was discovered and declared official in 1885 in Seymour, Wisconsin. A guy by the name of Charles Nagreen is credited for the achievement, and will be forever remembered as Hamburger Charlie.
  • State lawmakers have proudly laid claim to Wisconsin as the home of the hamburger. The State assembly recently served up a proclamation where Seymour beat out other competitors such as Athens, TX, and New Haven, CO, for the coveted award of being the hamburger capital of the country.
  • Nagreen began selling his World-famous hamburger at age 15 at the first Seymour fair in 1885, and later at the Brown County and Outagamie County fairs. At that time he was doing meatballs on a stick and decided to flatten them out and put them between two pieces of bread, so people could walk around the fair eating the hamburger.

How times have changed! Some hundred plus years later we walk around the fair eating everything on a stick.

Though the burger may not be the health food of choice,  it has been declared the “All American” food of preference — not only on special occasions, but every day. The burger has probably done more for the livestock industry than any other meat product. The health issue is debatable for another article.

The hamburger is always of greatest demand during the grilling season, but remember lean is not always better. Let’s face it, when it comes to ground meat, fat adds flavor. Fat adds flavor to any cut of meat, thus the need for marbling found in the higher quality cuts of meat. But adding fat is particularly important in hamburger, as most hamburgers come from low quality cull cows. This meat contains little or no marbling and would be extremely dry and tasteless if it weren’t for the co-mingling and mixing of fat trim from higher quality cuts.

This stirs up a very controversial subject with me, as the lean fanatics in this country continue to push a lean and healthier alternative. My response is this: “So is eating shoe leather, but what about the taste and satiety value?”

The harder we push lean, the faster we turn people away from the meat counter. I respect the claims of fattiness, but not at the expense of destroying the demand for high quality meat–everything in moderation!

When selecting hamburger, don’t always go for the leanest, most expensive. It will destroy the experience of good outdoor cooking.  Select the cheapest, fattiest burger you can find and control the fat content with the sizzle. Turn up the heat, ip quickly and sear in those rich savory juices. Any excess fat will have been cooked out of the burger, while at the same time retaining an unbelievable, scrumptious flavor.

To better understand ground beef labels, remember that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that lean burger must contain 10 grams of fat (4 1/2 grams saturated) or less per 4-ounce serving. For extra-lean the standard is 5 grams of fat (2 grams saturated) or less per serving. But don’t be misled by those labels. Neither meets the definition of a low-fat food, which is 3 grams of fat or less per serving. You simply have to decide if low fat is your goal, or is it eating good? Fat percentages can also be misleading.  Ground beef labeled 90 percent lean sounds low in fat, but actually packs more than 11 grams of fat per serving. And 95 percent lean has 6 grams per serving.

Appearance doesn’t help either. An absence of white flecks (marbling) doesn’t mean ground meat is low in fat, especially in red meat, where most of the fat is hidden in the muscle tissue. Again, your criteria for purchasing good tasting hamburger should be the inexpensive package, as the pricier option in this case doesn’t mean it will taste better.

You really can have it both ways, getting more flavor and less cost by simply cooking off the excess fat. The browning process will cook off the excess fat. This also enhances appearance and according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, this will reduce the fat content by as much as half. (So, don’t just take my word for it, the ‘diet folks’ are actually on my side!)

Grilling is the social barometer of neighborhood fence climbing and patio get-togethers. It’s hard to stay away from the aroma of a barbecue or the relaxed atmosphere of friends and family gatherings. But nothing can ruin a good time more than poor meat selection or inappropriate cooking procedures.

Temperature and timing are key to a memorable cookout. Where there is smoke, there is fire! Tend to business and watch what you’re doing very closely, as just one are-up can make the difference between success and failure. A good cook will ip once and avoid burning.

The hamburger has become an American icon, so take pride in both preparation and cooking.



Big Pie in the Sky is Made Possible, Thanks to a One-Of-A-Kind Convertible Oven/Grill

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For more insightful stories written by Ken Knight read