TPWD News Release — April 28, 2011
ATHENS — Do you like green eggs and ham….burgers? Would you like them with a fish? On a tram? On a dish? You will like them here, we wish! Would you? Could you? On a plate? Don’t be late! Come and see them! Watch us cook! Give a look! Make haste to taste! You will like green eggs with ham….burgers!
So here’s the deal . . .
In recent years, the Big Green Egg has revolutionized outdoor cooking. But when asked what the words green eggs bring to mind, most folks will answer “Dr. Seuss” or the name of one of his popular books, Green Eggs and Ham.
Stay with me just a little longer. This is going somewhere.
The iconic Egg is modeled on a traditional Asian ceramic cooking concept that has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. barbecue industry. Originally constructed with clay, the Egg is now manufactured with space-age ceramics that make the cooker virtually indestructible in normal use. Manufactured by a company headquartered near Atlanta, Georgia, The Big Green Egg is available in more than 20 countries worldwide.
For years, Athens, Texas, has been recognized as the “Home of the Original Hamburger.” (Yes, there are other places that claim that distinction—more about that later.)
Put the two together and you get Green Eggs and Ham…burgers, a friendly gastric get-together known to most as an Eggfest, which will take place May 21 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens, 75 miles southeast of Dallas. (Cooks will gather for orientation and a social at TFFC the evening of May 20.)
Participants will come from across the country to showcase their personal recipes, meet with fellow Eggheads, and share some great food with the crowd. Visitors can watch cooking demonstrations throughout the day and experience the Big Green Egg firsthand with the opportunity to do their own cooking on the Eggs. (You can also go fishing, see a diver hand-feed fish, and walk our Wetlands Trail to atone for all the free goodies you scarfed up.) A variety of vendors will also be on hand with kitchen and grill-related products.
Individuals interested in owning a Big Green Egg cooker may purchase demo eggs at substantially discounted prices following the event. A listing of cooks, registration forms, vendor registration forms, special event rates for lodging in Athens and other details about the event can be found at http://www.athenseggfest.wordpress.com.
Answers to all your questions about cooking on a Big Green Egg can be found at http://www.biggreenegg.com/forums.html.
Now, about those hamburgers.
Local lore has it that the hamburger as we know it (or pretty close to it) was invented by an Athens, Texas, resident, Fletcher (“Old Dave”) Davis, at his Athens café in the 1880s and introduced to the world at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. (You can read more about the fair and even listen to music of the era, much of it composed by Texas’s own Scott Joplin, at http://washingtonmo.com/1904/index.htm.)
A reporter for the New York Tribune wrote from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair of a new sandwich called a hamburger, “the innovation of a food vendor on the pike.” By “pike” he meant the World’s Fair midway. While the food vendor was never named, enough evidence existed that the person was none other than Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas, that the 80th Texas Legislature adopted a resolution naming Athens as “the Original Home of the Hamburger.”
To those of us raised in the shadow of The Golden Arches with billions and billions sold, it seems incredible that Fletcher Davis never pursued a career flipping burgers after the 1904 fair ended. “When Uncle Fletch and Aunt Ciddy returned from staying the duration at the World’s Fair there were several cafes making the new sandwich,” nephew Kindree Miller told historian Frank X. Tolbert. “So Uncle Fletch went back to firing pots in our pottery. He would cook hamburgers at picnics but he never reopened his little hamburger joint on the north side of the courthouse square. My uncle was proud of making the first hamburger sandwich, but he never thought of commercializing on it.”
I will spare you the details here, but you can read all about it at http://www.athenstx.org/live-and-work/history-of-the-hamburger.
Naturally, other towns in other states claim one of their residents originated what is certainly one of if not THE iconic American food. There’s Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin; Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio; Oscar Weber Bilby of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Louis Lassen of New Haven, Connecticut; Bert W. Gary of Clarinda, Iowa. All have their supporters; you can read about all of them at http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/HamburgerHistory.htm.
Or you can just Google “history of the hamburger.” You’ll get 11,100,000 hits. Knock yourself out.
It would be a lot more fun to come to Athens May 21 and spend the day at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center sampling Big Green Egg cooking and not worrying about WHO invented the hamburger but just being thankful someone did.
Green Eggs and Ham…burgers is sponsored by Morrison Supply, Paragon Distributing, Brookshire Brothers Grocery and TFFC.
For information on visiting the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, go to http://tpwd.texas.gov/tffcor call (903) 676-2277.