Who can resist the humble, yet delicious, cheeseburger? In celebration of National Cheeseburger Day on 18 September, we dive into the world of this cheesy treat. And if you’re dreaming of eating the very best burgers, visit California with Trafalgar and try a burger at In-N-Out burger, the first drive-thru burger stand.
GET INSPIRED BY: Coastal California and Big Sur
Who created the cheeseburger?
The question of who created the cheeseburger has been hotly debated for years. Some say the cheeseburger was invented by Lionel Sternberger in 1924 at the Rite Spot in Pasadena, California. Legend says that Lionel burned one side of the burger and instead of throwing it away, covered it with cheese and served it to the happy customer. Another story says that a homeless man asked Lionel to add cheese to his hamburger.
Either way, the restaurant put the cheeseburger on the menu and the rest is history. While the original Rite Spot stand is no longer there, you can still visit the site – the city of Pasadena has even laid a plaque there to commemorate this tasty bit of history. If you visit in January, you’ll get to celebrate the city’s annual Cheeseburger week.
RELATED CONTENT: A Burger Lover’s Guide to New York
Fun facts about cheeseburgers
- The largest cheeseburger ever made weighed a whopping 1,794 pounds (813 kilograms). It was made by Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar in Detroit in 2017 and took four years of planning to execute the monstrous burger. They had to build a convection oven out of a shipping container and it took 16 hours to cook. If this sounds like a dream come true, you can buy this enormous burger off Mallie’s menu… But be warned, it costs $10,000.
- The beloved cheeseburger is so popular it even made it into the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Jimmy Buffet wrote the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” after he took a rough boat trip with little food. When he finally arrived on the Island of Tortola, he was thrilled to order the cheeseburger he had craved on his journey. The song reached number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978.
- On average, the United States consumes 50 billion burgers a year, or around three burgers each a week.
- And where do all these burgers get eaten? California holds the title for most burger restaurants in the USA with 6,104 restaurants. Texas comes in a close second with 5,553 restaurants.
So where can you find one of the best burgers in California?
RELATED CONTENT: 9 epic things to do in Northern California
In-N-Out Burger is famed as California’s first drive-thru burger stand. The first stand opened in October 1948 in Baldwin Park near Los Angeles by newlyweds Harry and Esther Snyder.
The stand was all about serving up delicious burgers and fast. They were the first chain to have a two-way speaker system in the drive-thru so you can get “in and out” of the burger stand fast.
In-N-Out has since become a legend in the USA, with many iconic features including their mouthwatering double-double burgers and secret menus. You’ll also see crossed palm trees outside most In-N-Out stores. Harry introduced these after watching the 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, where the characters look for treasure buried beneath crossed palms.
In-N-Out is now run by Harry and Esther’s granddaughter Lynsi Snyder, who has kept up the original menu and strict quality control. In fact, the company’s quality-control measures are so strict, they’ll never open restaurants further than 500 miles from their commissary kitchens. That means you’ll only ever be able to eat an In-N-Out burger on the west coast!
RELATED CONTENT: 6 reasons why your next trip should be a visit to California
Visit California with Trafalgar
You can get your hands on one of the famous In-N-Out burgers on our Coastal California and Big Sur trip. We’ll leave San Francisco and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping to explore the old-growth redwood forest in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. After working up an appetite, we’ll stop for the ultimate Californian travel experience just outside Monterey… Lunch at an In-N-Out burger. Choose your burger, add fries and a milkshake and you’ve got yourself a deliciously all-American feast.
RELATED CONTENT: 15 San Francisco facts you probably never knew
After lunch, your California travel guide will keep the good times rolling with a farm tour in Salinas Valley, “the Salad Bowl of the World”. This incredible trip also includes a wine-paired dinner in Paso Robles, a tour of the grandiose Hearst Castle and a trip around “American Riviera” Santa Barbara. Top off your visit to California with a stargazing experience in Beverly Hills and Hollywood, and a walk down the iconic Venice Beach… And maybe one more burger.
Planning for an iconic 2022 trip? Request the latest Trafalgar brochure and start dreaming
Would you like to visit California? Let us know in the comments below!