Saturday, May 5, 2012

El Reno Onion Burger Day Festival

This would have been a very good day to be in El Reno, Oklahoma, about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. Today was the official El Reno Onion Burger Day Festival. The festival features all kinds of fun activities and shows, including several performers for the kids -- the Lincoln Honor Choir, Sponji the Clown, Maddox Ross, Kailyn Jolliff, and others -- and several more for the adults -- O Fidelis, Jeremy Fields, Sour Milk Babies, Deer People, Jenny Simms, and Johnny Cooper. That should be enough entertainment to satisfy pretty much everyone!

Of course, the highlight of the onion burger festival is, naturally, onion burgers. There will be onion burgers for everyone, hundreds of them in fact. And there will be the onion burger of all onion burgers -- an 850-pound monstrosity over 8.5 feet in diameter.

We learn a bit about the history of onion burgers and the El Reno festival from the festival's blog:
The Burger Day Festival is a tribute to the fried onion hamburger, cooked daily in El Reno since the early 1900’s. In Hamburgers & Fries: An American Story, author John T. Edge describes the history of El Reno’s fried onion hamburger. Edge tells of Ross Davis who owned and operated the Hamburger Inn on Route 66 in Downtown El Reno. Davis began making fried onion hamburgers in the twenties during the depression.  Since onions were cheap and meat was expensive, Davis would add a half shredded onion atop a five cent meat patty and smash the burger with the back of his spatula. It made the burger look bigger, while adding a tremendous amount of flavor.
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It was decided that this Fried Onion Burger Day Festival would revolve around the cooking of the World’s Largest Fried Onion Hamburger. Canadian Valley Technology Center was contacted to design and construct the equipment needed to cook this monstrous delicacy. The technology center created two major apparatuses, a twelve foot convection oven and a ten foot circular grill that could grill, rise, flip and lower a hamburger patty. The hard part was done. An invitation was given to all boys who had ever worked for one of the fried onion burger diners. The invitation was to receive a free burger day t-shirt in exchange for helping to cook the big hamburger. The event was developed and to be run by volunteer labor.
So, what does a giant onion burger look like? Here's a picture from a past festival. Looks delicious!

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