Birthplace of the Cheeseburger sidewalk plaque.
Birthplace of the Cheeseburger sidewalk plaque.

Birthplace of the Cheeseburger

Field review by the editors.

Pasadena, California

According to modern-day Pasadena historians, the cheeseburger was invented in Pasadena in January 1924 by a 16-year-old short-order cook named Lionel Clark Sternberger. The event occurred at a roadside hamburger stand that grew into a restaurant named the Rite Spot. That likely had something to do with its location, along Colorado Street, which later became part of Route 66.

The Mother Road eventually re-routed, Sternberger died, and for decades everyone forgot about Pasadena and the cheeseburger, leaving its birthplace to later claimants in Louisville and Denver. Then an old menu from the Rite Spot was discovered, describing its "Aristocratic Hamburger" as "The Original Hamburger with Cheese." Local civic boosters scrambled for more information, and found just enough evidence to convince themselves that the cheeseburger was indeed a Pasadena creation. The city hosted its first annual Cheeseburger Week in 2012, and on January 5, 2017, Pasadena's mayor unveiled a bronze plaque celebrating "the first instance of a hamburger with cheese being served to a customer," affixed to the ground formerly occupied by the Rite Spot. The property is now a credit union, but a half-mile west is a local grill where anyone can order a cheeseburger -- thanks to Lionel Clark Sternberger.

Also see: Cheeseburger Birthplace: Colorado | Cheeseburger Birthplace: Kentucky

Birthplace of the Cheeseburger

LA Financial Credit Union

Address:
1500 W. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA
Directions:
West edge of the city. On the south side of W. Colorado Blvd, midway between Ave. 64 and Patrician Way. The plaque is set into the cement at the base of the flagpole outside LA Financial Credit Union.
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