Come Celebrate Pasadena's Cheeseburger Centennial

Did you know that the cheeseburger was invented exactly 100 years ago right here in our own Pasadena? This gastronomic innovation traces back to 1924, when the first "Original Hamburger with Cheese" appeared on a menu in Pasadena. The story unfolds on Colorado Boulevard, then part of Route 66, at The Rite Spot, a roadside burger stand where this culinary legend was born, priced at a mere $0.15.

The mastermind behind this creation was Lionel Clark Sternberger, a 16-year-old short-order cook at his father's restaurant, The Rite Spot, located just west of the Colorado Bridge. There are two tales about how Lionel came to invent the cheeseburger. One story suggests that while flipping burgers, Lionel accidentally burnt a patty and cleverly covered it up with a slice of cheese. Another version credits an ingenious customer who requested cheese in their burger. Regardless of its origin, this innovative dish was named the "Aristocratic Burger: the Original Hamburger with Cheese."

The Rite Spot eventually evolved from a roadside stand into a brick-and-mortar steakhouse, continuing to serve the Aristocratic Burger. The Pasadena Museum of History found a menu from the Rite Spot, produced before 1939, featuring the Aristocratic Burger, confirming its place in culinary history. Lionel's contribution to the world of burgers was even recognized in a 1964 issue of Time Magazine's obituary section.

In celebration of this historic invention, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce initiated the Pasadena Cheeseburger Week in 2012. Since then, every January, restaurants across Pasadena join in to honor the iconic cheeseburger. In 2017, a plaque was dedicated at the original location of The Rite Spot to commemorate this delicious invention.

During Cheeseburger Week, participants can engage in various activities, including the Cheeseburger Challenge, where they can vote for their favorite cheeseburger among the participating restaurants. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to explore different flavors and styles of cheeseburgers, from classic to gourmet, and even vegetarian options.

Moreover, this year introduces the Cheeseburger Passport. By downloading and getting this passport stamped at participating restaurants, you can win exciting prizes. The more stamps you collect, the bigger the rewards. With 4 stamps, you win a $5 gift card, 8 stamps for a $10 gift card, and 12 stamps for a $15 gift card. Complete your passport with 16 stamps to be in the running for the grand prize: a dinner for two at a Chamber member restaurant.

This celebration is not just about enjoying delicious burgers; it's a way to connect with the community, discover new dining spots, and celebrate a century-old tradition that started right here in Pasadena. So, let's come together to enjoy this culinary delight and appreciate its rich history in our community during the Cheeseburger Week 2024.

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