It's unclear precisely who came up with the first hamburger. At least four strong contenders make a claim as the inventor of the ubiquitous food, but there's a common thread to each story: haste. In each case, a plain old cooked ground beef hamburger steak became the famous sandwich, simply because a customer needed nourishment to go.
The accidental creation of the hamburger caused a sensation and led, perhaps inevitably, to the creation of fast food restaurants. In 1921, the first hamburger chain, White Castle, opened [source: NPR]. Successful burger selling depends upon speed, low cost and ease of portability. But some restaurateurs have gone in another direction, creating large, slow and, most notably, expensive burgers.
At Mallie's Sports Grill and Bar in suburban Detroit, Mich., you can pony up $350 for a 134-pound (60.8 kg) bacon cheeseburger. The restaurant asks customers to give 24 hours prior notice for what they call the Absolutely Ridiculous Burger. Amid gasps of "Whoa, that's a big burger," the creation was debuted in February 2008, when the restaurant produced its first [source: Detroit Free Press]. The head chef at the grill spent 12 hours preparing and cooking the burger; it took three men to flip it and the bun alone weighs 50 pounds (22.7 kg) [source: AP]. It complements the restaurant's other impressive burgers, weighing in at 6 and 12 pounds (2.7 and 5.4 kg) respectively.
Although officials at Guinness World Records had yet to make an official judgment on the burger, its weight before serving beat the world record held by Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pa. Denny's produced a 123-pound (55.8 kg) burger.
Would you pay $350 for a 134-pound burger? Certainly that depends largely on your appetite and your finances. It certainly seems expensive, but truth be told, there are some dishes out there that make Mallie's "Absolutely Ridiculous Burger" seem cheap. Read about some more expensive food on the next page.
More Really Expensive Food
Despite clear indicators that many parts of the world are suffering from dire poverty, lack of adequate health care and death from starvation, fear not. There are still places in the United States, Europe and Asia where you can plunk down your money and get a magnificently decadent menu item.
In Burnley, England, for example, you can find the world's most expensive meat pie. The area is reputed for its pies, a reputation that was perhaps forever sealed in 2005 when chefs at the Fence Gate Inn created the Golden Bon Vivant pie. The pie, which sells for about $2,000 per slice, is made with ingredients claimed to be the best available. The beef comes from livestock that receives massages while they're alive. The Chinese Mutsutake mushrooms used in the pie are guarded by armed security where they're grown [source: The Mirror]. And the two bottles of wine the recipe calls for -- 1982 Château Mouton Rothschild -- can go for as much as $2,500 apiece [source: Snooth]. If the ingredients don't make the pie decadent enough, it's topped with a pressed gold leaf before serving.
You can find Buddha Jumped Over the Wall soup (Fo Tiao Qiang) throughout China, especially at birthdays and weddings. If you're squeamish about crashing strangers' events, you can also find it at some restaurants around the world, including London's Mayfair restaurant. The soup is so named because in the 19th century, one of a group of poets dining where it was first made commercially was so inspired by the aroma, he wrote an ode to it. The poet reckoned that the soup would make Buddha himself jump a wall just for a taste [source: Travel Guide China]. Buddha better have more than his begging bowl, however. The soup, which requires ordering five days in advance at the Mayfair, goes for around $200 a serving [source: The Telegraph]. Shark fin, abalone, Japanese flower mushroom and other ingredients are what give the soup its renowned taste -- and expensive price.
Hate fruitcake but love to impress your friends? You may have a little trouble deciding on whether to plunk down the $1.65 million asking price for a Japanese fruitcake, designed with diamonds [source: AP]. The fruitcake, first created in 2005, should stay for eons to come. It is edible, although the original was made as part of an exhibit on diamonds. It's suggested, however, that you spit the diamonds out.
If fruitcake's not your thing, you can still get your sweet on with a $1,000 sundae. Served at New York's Serendipity 23 restaurant, the Serendipity Golden Opulence Sundae includes five scoops of ice cream made from Tahitian vanilla beans and Madagascar vanilla, a 23-carat gold leaf and topped with Grand Passion caviar [source: The Telegraph]. The crystal goblet the sundae is served in is included in the price, as is the single mother-of-pearl spoon [source: CNN].
Cocktails are their own subset of decadently expensive menu items. The Algonquin Hotel in New York serves a $10,000 martini. There's nothing necessarily spectacular about the alcoholic ingredients, it's the diamond that served in the drink that makes for the hefty price. Perhaps the lack of remarkable ingredients is the reason why Guinness World Records has ignored the Algonquin's cocktail. Instead, they've bestowed the title of most expensive commercially available cocktail to the Hemingway Bar at the Hotel Ritz in Paris for its $489 Ritz Sidecar [source: Forbes]. This drink is made with exceedingly rare 1865 Ritz Champagne cognac, which fetches around $10,000 a bottle [source: The Wave].
For more information on food and other related topics, visit the next page.
More Great Links
- Bushnell, Chris. “Expense Report.” The Wave Magazine. http://www.thewavemag.com/pagegen.php?articleid=24975&pagename=article
- Cortez, Dan. “134-pound hamburger is savored in Southgate; then it’s sold and eaten.” Detroit Free Press. February 24, 2008. http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080224/NEWS06/802240589/1008/news
- Dickler, Jessica. “Grand Opulence Sundae.” CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/news/0710/gallery.luxury_expensive_food/3.html
- Donnelley, Claire. “Who ate the L1,000 pie? Mmmm…me!.” November 18, 2005. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/tm_objectid=16383957&method=full&siteid=94762-name_page.html
- Valhouli, Christina. “The most expensive U.S. restaurants.” Forbes. 2006. http://www.forbes.com/2004/10/14/cx_cv_1014feat.html
- “Chateau Mouton Rothschild (1982).” Snooth. http://www.snooth.com/wine/chateau-mouton-rothschild-1982
- “Diamond Christmas cake goes on sale in Japan.” Associated Press. December 7, 2005. http://www.wtopnews.com/index.php?nid=456&sid=642582
- “Extravagant gourmet treats.” The Telegraph. April 8, 2006. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/04/09/nsand109.xml
- “Fo Tiao Qiang.” Travel Guide China. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/fujian/fuzhou/dining.htm”
- “Present at the creation: The hamburger.” NPR. July 15, 2002. http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/patc/hamburger/
- “Restaurant offers shark’s fin soup at L108 per bowl.” The Telegraph. May 10, 2005. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/09/usoup.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/05/09/ixportaltop.html
- “Restaurant owner claims record with 134-pound burger.” Associated Press. February 24, 2008. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,332098,00.html