Nothing says all-American like a summer food festival in the Heartland, and hamburgers are as American as it gets. So when we heard about The National Hamburger Festival we knew we had to be there.
So we were off to Akron, Ohio, where the Menches family claims the invention of the burger. Where else could the annual Hamburger Festival be celebrated but here in the Rubber Capital of the World?
The story goes that back in 1885 Charles Menches ran out of pork for the sandwiches he was selling at the Erie County Fair. His meat supplier was reluctant to butcher a hog in the heat and suggested he use ground beef instead. After seasoning the meat with a little coffee and brown sugar, a star was born.
Their offspring are still in the burger business, so our first stop would be at their booth to give a descendant of the original a try.
WATCH: David experiences everything the Hamburger Fest has to offer!
However, finding that booth was harder than we expected. There were so many offerings - every kind of burger imaginable available. How is it that we'd never heard of this huge hamburger hootenanny? We didn't even know about the festival until the Tuesday before it kicked off and by Saturday we were there. For such a spur-of-the-moment trip HotelScan.com can come in handy. They check the best rates from over thirty hotel booking sites, saving us a lot of time and energy (and cussing!)
Diving into a Kiddy Pool Full of Ketchup
After successfully locating the Menches and filling our bellies with burgers, we were ready for the rest of the festivities. Cook-offs, pageants, music and the perhaps the wackiest competition we've seen yet in all our travels all awaited.
We made our way through the crowds to the main stage and spied a kiddy pool filled with ketchup. Odd. Hanging behind the pool a sign proudly proclaiming: Bobbing for Burgers!
What could this possibly mean? We learned soon enough when plastic burgers were floated on the red sea, contestants donned goggles, held their hands behind their backs, and duked it out face first in a vat of sticky-sweet goo.
Our kind of fun - as long as someone else is doing it.
WATCH: The craziest competition we've ever seen!
Beauty and the Burger
It's great to be queen: The 2012 & 2013 National Hamburger Queens
Next on the program was the crowning of the 2013 National Hamburger Queen.
According to the official festival site, in order to enter the ladies must be aged 16 - 24 years of age and are judged on:
- Presentation of self
- Hamburger knowledge
Don't Stop at One or Two - Try Eating Ten Hamburgers!
Competitions involving eating massive amounts of food in a short period of time are an American festival staple -- harkening back to county fair pie eating contests -- and we would have been highly disappointed if the Festival's Ohio Hamburger Eating Contest had failed to live up to that tradition.
We were not to be let down by this chow down. Each "eater" was given a plate of ten burgers, bottles of water, ketchup and mustard, and a massive crowd to cheer them on. Their mission: to consume as many hamburgers as superhumanly possible in ten minutes.
It proved to be harder than it sounds, but keep in mind these were full-sized burgers -- bun and all -- and the winner managed to finish seven whole gut bombs and a few bites of an eighth.
WATCH: How many burgers could YOU eat in ten minutes?
It was enough to make us swear off of burgers forever - or at least until next year's festival.
To help us continue in our valiant efforts to regale the world with tales of our adventures, The GypsyNesters periodically accept compensation for links within our stories. This post includes one of those. As always, all opinions are our own.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
YOUR TURN: Are you hungry for hamburgers? ;)
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