Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, March 7, 2022

There’s No Ham in Hamburgers by Kim Zachman

There’s No Ham in Hamburgers: Facts and Folklore About Our Favorite Foods
By Kim Zachman; Illustrated by Peter Donnelly
Running Press Kids. Hachette Book Group. 2021.

In her author’s note, Zachman states that during an internet search in trying to find out why “hamburgers are called hamburgers when there is no ham in them,” she discovered some very interesting stories about the origin of hamburgers. “I saw stories about Mongolian emperors, German immigrants, and American entrepreneurs. Some of the stories were true; some were partly true; and some were pure legend. It seems that when the facts are few, folklore fills in.”

Zachman investigates ten of our most favorite fast foods. From hamburgers, pizza, french fries, ice cream, hot dogs, chicken fingers to peanut butter (my favorite food), cookies, chocolate, and cereal.

For example, in order to feed his troops the ruthless conqueror, Genghis Khan (1162-1227), had his soldiers put raw meat scraps under their horses saddles. “The constant friction from hours of riding tenderized the meat enough for soldiers to eat it” while trotting across the tundra. It was a few centuries later, in the 1500's, in Hamburg, Germany, those meat patties were cooked, topped with sautéed onions. This yummy treat became a local favorite in Germany. When, "in the 1800's,  millions of Germans immigrated to the United States, they brought their Hamburg steak with them."

I loved knowing that George Washington ate a lot of ice cream. In fact, he racked up a bill for $200 at an ice cream shop in New York City. According to Zachman, “That would be like you spending $5,000 in one Baskin-Robbins in three months!” Now that’s a lot of ice cream. 

America has always been described as a melting pot, and Zachman does make a strong connection, in every chapter, that America's favorite foods were influenced by other cultures and brought to this country by immigrants. 

The book contains an author’s note, table of content, source notes, and index. Throughout each chapter are informative side bars, recipes and science experiments.

A fun, and quite delicious topic for those who love food and history. 

Our recommendation is not to read this on an empty stomach.

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