Louisville family claims it created the cheeseburger - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville family claims it created the cheeseburger

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --It doesn't matter if you're talking about a hole in the wall, an upscale spot, or a fast food joint.

"There are burger places popping up all over the place," Bunz owner, Brandon Detenber said.

There would be a big money maker absent from the menu at each of those spots, if not for Louisville, Kentucky, and more specifically the Kaelin family.

The story starts back in the early 30s when Bing Crosby played on jukeboxes in restaurants across America. Carl and Peg Kaelin were getting ready to drop what was some serious dough, in those days.

"For 600 dollars, mother and daddy bought the restaurant," former owner, Irma Kaelin Raque said.

The restaurant on Newburg Road and Speed Ave. quickly became one of the best hamburger places in town, using an iron skillet to better the flavor. It wasn't long after the opening, that Raque's dad came up with a new menu item, after making cheese sandwiches for local school kids.

"He says Peg, that's my mother's name, put some cheese on that burger. So, she did. And, he ate one and then he ate two, and by the time he got to the third one, she thought, that must be pretty good," Raque said.

A lot of others around town agreed. "The Cheeseburger" was on the menu just days later. Each step of its creation has been documented in Raque's homemade scrap book.

You could order it for a nickel and a dime. Today you couldn't even get a slice of cheese for that price, plus the cheeseburger is now one of the most ordered sandwiches at any restaurant in America.

"I think cheese adds a bit of spice to the burger, a bit of flavor," burger eater, Shawn Cato told WDRB.

While Raque and her family's restaurant takes credit for its birth, there are some nay-sayers claiming others are responsible.

"It's very possible that someone else had already put cheese on a hamburger. It's just that we started talking about it," she explained.

Still she has quite the legacy that has helped to create, form, and change an American icon.

Kaelin's is no longer open. Mulligan's is now the name of the restaurant there.

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