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Rutland’s Whopping Patty


Thirty-five years ago, the people of Rutland, North Dakota were enjoying the weather, feeling the summer breeze, and gearing up to celebrate 1982, the 100th year after their ancestors settled the town. To observe this significant anniversary in style, they decided they would try to grill the world’s largest hamburger. They chose this whopper of an event to highlight the huge anniversary, but they might have been influenced by a little competition. Only months before, their neighbors four hours north in Towner had set the world record by grilling a gigantic 3,000-pound burger patty, surpassing the previous record by 141 pounds. This was the threshold Rutland would have to reach if they wanted a place in the record books, so they set about the task.

They hauled beef in refrigerated trucks to a grain elevator to weigh the load, then transported it to a pasture just outside of town. Here, they used a homemade giant skillet and burners to grill the nearly two-ton burger. A crowd of thousands gathered to watch as Mitch Mahrer operated a crane attached to chains to flip the patty and grill it evenly on both sides, a detail unique to the Rutland record. When it was declared fully cooked, the giant mass of beef was 16 feet in diameter, 2 ½ inches deep, and weighed a total of 3,591 pounds, beating Towner by over 500 pounds. However, it did not last long. The crowd was let loose on the burger and the world’s largest hamburger patty was gone in no time.

Since 1982, other towns have surpassed Rutland in grilling the largest hamburger patty, though it seems this record never strays far from the Midwest. The most recent record happened on September 5th, 1999, in Saco, MT. There, Loran Green and Friends of Hi Line Promotions decided they were going to top this record with 6,040 pounds of pure Montana beef, beating out the most recent record holders in Seymour, Wisconsin, and almost doubling the size Rutland’s patty. Seymour said they would beat whatever record Saco set, but the 2.74-ton burger still holds the crown as the largest hamburger patty to this day. More recently the town of Carlton, Minnesota decided to grill the largest hamburger, complete with a giant bun and over 200 pounds of condiments but the grand total only came out to a measly 2,014 pounds.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas


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