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Ju(i)cy Lucy meats the challenge of 'Most Influential Burgers' list


A humble hamburger born in a Minneapolis dive bar has been elevated to being called "influential" by Time Magazine.

The publication known for picking a Person of the Year has selected 17 burgers for its list, judged not for taste but for importance. "We interviewed burger historians and experts (hello, dream job!) to determine which patties made the biggest impact on the burger industry—and the world at large," the story said.

Coming in at No. 10 on Time's list is the Jucy Lucy, which the magazine helpfully explains includes cheese melted inside the patty. While the version "was reportedly invented in the 1920s, when chefs were still experimenting with the burger, it gained national attention in 2008, thanks to a feud between two Minneapolis bars that both claim to have 'invented' it."

KSTP noted that the simmering creation dispute has created a loyal following for the inside-out style of burger between the claimants, Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. The disagreement extends to the spelling of the sandwich – Matt's Bar has the "Jucy Lucy" on the menu, while the 5-8 Club offers patrons a "Juicy Lucy." Since both joints are located in Minneapolis, the city can claim to be Lucy's birthplace regardless of which is correct.

The most influential burger on Time's list is the slider at White Castle. It was selected not because of its medicinal powers against hangovers but because the little square patty was the first of the fast-food sandwiches. Also included on the influential list are the laboratory-grown beef burger, the Quadruple Bypass Burger offered at the frankly-named Heart Attack Grill and the Gardenburger for bringing a facsimile of the All-American favorite to those who eschew rather than chew beef.

I think I was in kindergarten when a weisenheimer first asked me, "Is your middle name Cheese?" In researching my very own surname, I learned that 'burger' is the German word for citizen. That seems appropriate – burgers are the nourishment for the proletariat, as well as the food of the gods. The Time story got your burger curator to take a look at the local landscape for more on the burgers enjoyed by Minnesota citizenry.

Mpls.St Paul Magazine rounds up the area's worthiest burgers on an annual basis. The magazine's most recent contest, published in the August 2013 issue, put the hamburger at Victory 44 in Minneapolis at the top of its "Burger League of Champions." Coming in second was the offering from the Kenwood, also in Minneapolis, which comes complete with a fried egg atop the patty (pictured).

In October of 2013, the Star Tribune compiled a list of eight favorite burgers in the Twin Cities, diplomatically not ranking them in a list. Included in the best were the classic at the 79-year-old Convention Grill and a trendier rendition from Haute Dish, which includes gorgonzola cheese and comes dressed with "a whisper of horseradish-kissed mustard," and a "dollop of roasted garlic aioli." The newspaper has a weekly "Burger Friday" feature from food critic Rick Nelson that updates the latest twist on the sandwich standby.

The Pioneer Press published a list of best burgers that was more St. Paul-centric. Included on the list from food writer Jess Fleming was the award winning burger at Casper and Runyon's Nook, which she said is known to make "burger lovers weep with joy"; and the stuffed burger "Blucys" at the Blue Door Pub, the restaurant's own take on the Juicy Lucy. For more upscale eaters, Fleming recommends Meritage, which smothers the beef in Emmentaler cheese and tops it with wine-braised shallots.

By the by, a quick Google search turns up the redundantly-named Citizen Burger Bar in Charlottesville, Va. Think they'd comp me?

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