We’re out in the middle of nowhere. You know, and the good thing about it is, we are the only thing in nowhere.
So says Joe Maranto the owner of the Meers Store and Restaurant, home of the Texas Long Horn Beef Burger. Location: Meers, Oklahoma – population six people, eight cats, and a dog.
Well I found out about the Meers store in a documentary film called Hamburger America. This film tells the story of eight deliciously unique hamburger emporiums. Some are small, some are bigger, they’ve all been around for a while, and almost all are described as ‘world famous’. As they say at the Meers store – Eat Beef, the west wasn’t won on salad.
We’ll come back to Meers shortly. So it has been my tradition to do a post on art for the July 4th, and Thanksgiving Day holidays. But what could be more traditional than a July 4th cookout. So here we go with a look at one of the American food items most often consumed on this the July 4th weekend. Whether you are cooking burgers outdoors on a charcoal grill, or flippin’ burgers on an electric grill, or if you prefer them fried in a cast-iron pan, it seems obvious that you must really love just plain wolfing them down. The hamburger is an American tradition and is as popular today as ever and that’s taking in to account the recent rise in the cost of beef.
Hamburger American is filmed, directed, and edited by George Motz. I can’t say with certainty, but it is likely that Motz was influenced by TV Journalist Charles Kuralt, who in 1967, convinced his bosses at CBS News to let him get out of the studio, and travel across America finding stories. Kuralt claimed he was tired of the grind and the competitive nature of TV Broadcasting’s version of the news. They said okay – we’ll give it a go for three months.
The title of the series was On The Road With Charles Kuralt, and it ran for 20 years.
In Motz’s film – we visit eight different hamburger restaurants across the country. The segments are about the making of the burgers, some of them in ways you wouldn’t or couldn’t ever imagine, but the real focus of the film is the story of these establishments, some of which predate me, you, our parents, and even our grandparents. And per the film, some of these establishment’s long-time clientele are certainly old enough to be our grandparents.
So off we go to visit these hamburger emporiums. We’ll sample the burgers only visually of course, but it is interesting watching the owners of these places talk about their burgers and their restaurants which have become their life’s work. First stop: Memphis, Tennessee – where you can find Graceland, the home Elvis A. Presley, and on Beale Street, you will find Dyers World Famous Hamburgers. They proclaim that their burgers, which are deep-fried in 102 year old grease, are the best burgers anywhere. Dyers began in 1912, and the present owner… … Tom Robertson says the grease is processed and strained daily, but they’ve never thrown it out and started over, so somewhere in there, are molecules from 1912. Robertson said, I won’t reveal the ingredients with which they season the grease, but if your grease isn’t from 1912, it won’t matter anyway. Have you had your Vitamin G today, with G standing for grease?
He said on an average day, they sell anywhere from 300 to 500 burgers. As Robertson says – It’s all about the grease. If you’re watching your health at all, I’d recommend that you go next door.