Hamburger America : A Book Review by Carolyn Hayes
Be ready; be very ready to embark on a journey of one man’s cross-country mission to discover the best burger joints in the nation. Author George Motz was definitely ready for the challenge when he began his state-by-state excursion to document heart-warming stories of the many Mom & Pop hamburger counters across America!
George Motz’s book, Hamburger America, has an eye-catching cover designed after a super-hero comic book with a classic paneled 1950 woody station-wagon. A DVD hamburger documentary is available in the back of the book (unless you purchase Kindle version). The documentary highlights eight hamburger establishments and was first aired on the Sundance channel in 2005. It went on to win 3 Emmys, 12 Broadcast Design Awards, 1 Telly Award, and was nominated for a James Beard Award. The film has even become required viewing in a food course at Princeton University.
The three hamburger joints that really caught my attention were:
Of course, the first was my favorite of favorites being my nephew and his wife, the Crabill namesake, 3rd generation, Marsha Crabill Hiltibran with Crabill’s Hamburger Shoppe, Urbana, OH. Andy and Marsha share their time flipping those sought-after burgers! Goes back almost 90 years! Alongside those memorial years of hamburgers, many marriage proposals were made there.
The second joint was Dyers of Memphis, TN, which would be a great get-away weekend after visiting Elvis’ Graceland. Dyers is famous for its deep-fried hamburgers. Hamburgers are prepared by smashing the ground beef paper-thin on a marble counter top and then dropped into grease maintained from its original 1912 molecules which Dyers maintains is the secret for those great tasting burgers! When the patty floats to the top, it’s done! This hamburger bio didn’t mention whether or not Elvis ever visited there, but I bet he did.
My favorite joint was Billy Goat Tavern & Grill in Chicago, IL., operated by Sam Sianis (and his sons). Just seeing and hearing Sam shout: “Cheezborger! Cheezborger! Cheezborger!” brought back great memories of a Saturday Night Live skit with John Belushi. As George Motz’s notes in the book, “probably every old hamburger joint has its share of stories and lore, but none wears it on its sleeve like the Billy Goat.” If Pat (my husband) and I go back to Chicago, the ‘Billy Goat’ is one place we will definitely visit.
Be ready to be entertained by the proprietors’ unique personalities at these hamburger havens from Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, CT to Crabill’s Hamburger Shoppe in Urbana, OH. Hamburger America was entertaining for me. If you’re like me and truly love the preservation of America’s history and love eating hamburgers, you’ll enjoy the book. George’s mission commenced over 8 years ago, but most assuredly those hamburger joints are still going strong today, but check to make sure before you begin your journey! With me this book ranked a 10 and I’m eager to read the updated, revised edition! Oh, Wow!
Title: Hamburger Amerca: One Man’s Cross-Country Odyssey to Find the Best Burgers in the Nation
Author: George Motz
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
Publication Date: April 2008
This Review is from the April 2008 Edition of Hamburger America / A 2017 Revised and Updated Edition is Now Available