Hamburger University, the McDonald's training school and research
group, went looking for the origin of the hamburger some years ago,
they concluded that it was introduced at the 1904 St Louis World's
Fair by an anonymous food vender.
But it wasnąt until the 1980s that it was discovered that the vendor
was from East Texas.
The inventor was Fletcher Davis -- sometimes known as Old
Dave -- who ran a small cafe on Athens'
square in the 1880s. His early burger was described as a classic,
greasy burger served on just-out-of-the-oven slices of bread and garnished
with ground mustard mixed with mayonnaise, a big slice of onion, and
sliced cucumber pickles.
The man responsible for unearthing Fletcher's culinary contribution,
the late Frank Tolbert of the Dallas Morning News, worked for years
on the hamburger story, assisted by Clint Murchison, Jr. of Dallas
and Kindree Miller, Sr., an Athens potter and a nephew of Fletcher.
In his 1983 book, "Tolbert's Texas," the Dallas columnist said Murchison
sent him a large photo of the l904 midway with "Old Dave's Hamburger
Stand," marked by Murchison's grandfather, John Murchison of Athens.
The people of Athens
were reportedly so pleased with Fletcher's sandwich that they reportedly
raised a pile of money and sent him to the World's Fair.
Fletcher was, by trade, a potter. He came to Athens
from Webster City, Missouri, to join Miller's father in the pottery
business. Although he was still in his twenties, he was somehow tagged
with the nickname, Old Dave. He apparently got into the burger business
by cooking at pottery shows. Miller said he was "a natural and imaginative
When he came home from the St. Louis exposition, Fletcher gave up
his cafe on the Athens square and went back to firing pots in the
Miller pottery. But, before returning to Texas, Fletcher also had
something to do with the origin of another fast-food delicacy.
was interviewed by a New York Tribune reporter who was intrigued by
the hamburger and the fried potatoes he served with the sandwich at
the World's Fair. Fletcher told the reporter the sandwich was his
idea, but said he learned to cook the potatoes that way from a friend
in Paris, Texas. Apparently
the reporter thought Fletcher meant Paris, France, and reported that
the hamburger was served with wonderful "french-fried potatoes."
The name stuck, and history has forever given the wrong Paris the
credit for french fries.
Things Historical June
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers