"I Made Route 66 Fried Onion Burgers"
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One such piece of this culinary heritage is found about 25 miles west of Oklahoma City in El Reno, Oklahoma. The town is best known as the hometown of the fried-onion burger, a Depression-era sandwich so tasty that it remained a local staple long after the economy recovered.
According to Atlas Obscura, where I initially encountered the fried-onion burger, the original creator was a man named Ross Davis, who was proprietor of The Hamburger Inn, situated right on Route 66. Supposedly, Davis started out in the late 1920s serving regular all-beef patties. Come the early ’30s, however, and a steadily dwindling number of motorists could afford such a luxury. Not a few were on a one-way trip out of state as “Oakies,” fleeing farm foreclosures and the Dust Bowl for the greater opportunities of California.
Davis’s solution was to swap out about half the ground beef for chopped onions. Fried up, the bed of onions becomes a delicious, crispy, beef-flavored filler in the patty. The beef, which steams above the cooking onions (a la White Castle, which was itself founded in 1921 in Kansas), simultaneously takes on their sweetness and zest.
photo from Upsplash