Originally posted by orzobino
I was watching the food channel and they were talking about hamburgers and apparently in the late 19teens there was a ground beef scare and people quit eating hamburgers and it was white Castle that brought the country back on track..thats why they used white buildings and cooked the burgers in front of the customers...the world owes white castle.....
after further research, your information is true, depending on where one gets the information.
Now, specifically, there is no historical documentation of a meat problem during WWI. (since, as you will read later, the fear of certain meat at the beginning of the 20th century caused by an outcry from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle Book, led to new meat handling laws in 1906, well before WWI)
One reason hamburgers were less popular during WWI era, was because of it's name. Anti-German sentiment led to a reduction in the sales of hamburger. Some places changed the name to "salibury steak"
According to wikipedia:
Due to widely prevalent anti-German sentiment in the USA during the First World War, an alternative name for hamburgers ("salisbury steaks") became more common for the duration. Even after the war, hamburger's popularity was severely depressed...
however, it goes to say:
...until the White Castle chain of restaurants created a business model featuring sales of large numbers of small hamburgers (later sometimes called "sliders", "grease grenades", "gut bombs" and other dysphemisms, though "slider" is now a generic term for a small hamburger) in the mid-1920s.
Other historical sources state: At the turn of the last century, despite Old Dave's success in St Louis [at the 1904 World's Fair] the hamburger was looked down upon by the majority of Americans as low grade meat likely to be richer with E coli than nutrients. Pork was the number one household meat; hamburger patties were struggling on the bottom rung along with two-day-old shrimp.
In this case, there is no meat scare, per se, but just a general fear of ground meat. E Coli was identified in 1885, and ground meat was often feared, since meat was the primary carrier. The age of the meat was the primary question when it came to ground meat.
Admittedly, Upton Sinclair's Book "The Jungle" had an adverse affect on meat sales. But not just ground meat, rather all meat from the US. Following the book, in order to calm public opinion and demonstrate the cleanliness of their meat, the major meat packers lobbied the Federal government to pass legislation paying for additional inspection and certification of meat packaged in the United States. The meat packers efforts, coupled with the public outcry, led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906
, which established the Food and Drug Administration.
Still, by WWI, the major fear regarding ground meat was not how it was handled, but the age of the meat.
In the early 20's White Castle put the meat up front, not to show that it was well cooked, but to show how fresh the meat was. According to BBC historians: Edgar Waldo 'Billy' Ingram and J Walter Anderson, confidently promot[ed] the idea that hamburger meat was both clean and safe by moving the kitchen from its hiding place at the back of the shop to the front, in full view of the patrons so that they could see how fresh the raw beef was.
The shop boasted fresh raw hamburger delivered twice a day and an experiment that showed that hamburger had nutritional value.
So, no meat scare during WWI. Mostly likely a combination of these effects: fear of ground meat being ground up to cover its age and anti-German sentiment were the reasons for the hamburger's backseat to the hotdog.
But, my finding in this reasearch was that White Caste did indeed have a prime influence in the US hamburger culture.
Interestingly enough, "White Castle suffered greatly when World War II erupted. Part of this was due to the rationing of sugar and beef; Ingram did nothing to help his business by adamantly refusing to hire women or black workers. Although much later he relented to both, his obstinacy where TV advertising, suburban expansion, franchising and french fries were concerned had cost Ingram his lead in the hamburger business."
We all know who took over the reigns in the top spot in the 1950's.