Steamed about a Cheeseburger

One of the best parts of presenting Connecticut Invents! is the chance to get on the road and discover the things that make our state unique. Yesterday after a program at the Hamden library and one my way to one in Glastonbury I had a few minutes to stop for lunch. Looking at my map of Connecticut my eyes were immediately drawn to Meriden. Why you may ask? Two words: Steamed Cheeseburger. And yes, this is a Connecticut invention! So I set off for Meriden where Ted’s Restaurant serves up this central Connecticut specialty.

By a variety of accounts (and like everything else, there are many accounts) the first steamed burger was served up sometime in the early 20th century in either Meriden or Middletown Connecticut. Why steamed? Well some folks believed and still do, that steaming a burger makes it healthier than frying. The meat for a steamer (as the burgers are sometimes called) isn’t formed into a patty, its cooked in mini pans that fit inside the steamer machine or tender. (Which I’m trying to learn more about. Were they invented in Connecticut?) The meat cooks in its own juices, thus keeping it incredibly moist and flavorful. And the cheese for the burger? It’s cheddar and softened seperately prior to topping off the burger. It turns out molten hot and gooey…………..what else can I say?

So yes, I enjoyed my steamy Connecticut invention. And while wiping the juices and dripping cheese off my face I thought about how cool it is that such a small state like Connecticut invented everything from the steamed burger to the submarine…….

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