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A fast-food hamburger.


A hamburger (or burger, for short) is a sandwich consisting of a cooked patty of ground meat, usually ranging from beef, pork, and/or turkey placed in an open, wheat bun or between two slices of bread.

Hamburgers are often served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, or cheese and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup. These condiments or excess material are optional for the consumer.

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The term hamburger originally derives from the German city of Hamburg, Germany's second largest city, from where many emigrants emigrated to America. The term "burger" became the synonym for many types of round sandwiches, although this word actually described a type of food rather than their creator(s) who allegedly originated in Hamburg.

Left: North American homemade hamburger.

Hamburgers are usually a feature of fast food restaurants. The hamburgers served in major fast food establishments are mass-produced in factories and frozen for delivery to the site. These hamburgers are thin and of uniform thickness, differing from the traditional American hamburger prepared in homes and conventional restaurants, which is thicker and prepared by hand from ground beef. Hamburgers in fast food restaurants are usually fried, but some firms, such as Burger King use a grilling process. At conventional American restaurants, hamburgers may be ordered "rare", but normally are served well-done for food safety reasons. Fast food restaurants do not offer this option.

The McDonald's fast-food chain sells a sandwich called the Big Mac, one of the world's top selling hamburgers. The first McDonald's restaurant was opened in 1940 by Dick and Mac McDonald inSan Bernardino, California. Their introduction of the "Speedee Service System" in 1948 established the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. The McDonald brothers began franchising in 1953. Other major fast-food chains, including Burger King, also rely heavily on hamburger sales.

Hamburgers are often served as a picnic and party food, cooked outdoors on barbecue grills. Hamburger patties can be cooked rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, or well done. These terms refer to how thoroughly the meat is cooked, ranging from having a little bit of pink coloring to being dark brown, cooked almost to a crisp. However because of the potential for food-borne illness, it is recommended that hamburgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 170°F (80°C). If cooked to this temperature, they will be well done.

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