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Rutland’s Hamburger


Small Town makes it Big. Big hamburger that is. Thirty-two years ago, on this date in 1982, Rutland, North Dakota claimed title to Home of the World’s Largest Hamburger.

Local cooks created the culinary colossus as part of the one-hundredth anniversary of Rutland’s first settlement. Rutland’s Community Club believed their town’s centennial celebration should be marked by an over-the-top spectacle, so they paged through previous editions of the Guinness Book of World Records for inspiration, seeking a record feasible for their tiny community of two hundred people nestled in southeastern North Dakota. The solution quickly became apparent: they would grill the World’s Biggest Hamburger.

And so, in the summer of 1982 a refrigerated truck hauled nearly two tons of beef to a local grain elevator for official measurement, weighing in at 3, 591 pounds.

The world’s largest patty was then transported to a pasture just outside Rutland for preparation on a custom-built frying pan, heated by a propane burner generating more than 1.5 million BTU’s. A local construction company provided a crane to flip the burger so that it could be fried on both sides before several thousand spectators chowed down.

Today, Rutland’s record hamburger no longer holds the title of world’s largest, but the town still has the grill, standing upright at Lou Sanderson Field, proudly commemorating the town’s ingenuity thirty-two years ago. According to one local resident, “the huge burner and the other skillet plate are still on hand, waiting for another use, so, stand by.”

The enthusiasm, pride, and sense of communal belonging found in towns like Rutland are traits common in hundreds of small communities scattered throughout the Northern plains. At times this communal pride gives opportunity for silly fun – like constructing an oversized hamburger. Yet, this love for community inspires more – compassion, self-sacrifice, and a broad understanding of the word “friend.”

And it is this idea of community – giant hamburgers and all – that helps makes North Dakota such a magical place to live.

Dakota Datebook written by Christina Sunwall

“History.”  Rutland, ND.  Accessed June 6, 2014. "http://www.rutlandnd.com/history/" http://www.rutlandnd.com/history/ The Rooster Crows- August 3, 2012.”  Rutland, ND.  Accessed June 6, 2014. "http://www.rutlandnd.com/news/rooster-crows/2012/08/03/the-rooster-crows-august-3-2012" http://www.rutlandnd.com/news/rooster-crows/2012/08/03/the-rooster-crows-august-3-2012 “World’s Largest Hamburger: Rutland, ND.”  Big Things of the Northern Plains.  Accessed June 6, 2014. "http://heritagerenewal.org/bigthings/hamburger.htm" http://heritagerenewal.org/bigthings/hamburger.htm .