A “vegetable burger” or “veggie burger” usually describes a hamburger-type sandwich without meat. In 1954 and 1955, drive-ins offered a “vegetable burger”—a regular hamburger with some vegetables on it (such as lettuce, pickles or tomatoes). Recipes for a “vegetable burger” without meat have been cited in print in 1961 and 1965.
The term “veggie burgers” was cited in print in 1976, but it meant a hamburger with vegetables. “Wheat Germ Veggie Burgers” was cited in print in 1978. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh told “The Story of the Veggie Burger” on January 14, 2014. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), an American global food-processing and commodities-trading corporation, aired a commercial in 1989 about a fictional “veggie burger” containing food products ADM helped market. This caused a demand, and ADM came out with actual veggie burgers in the early 1990s. However, “veggie burgers” had already been cited numerous times in print over a decade earlier (in the late 1970s and early 1980s).
Wikipedia: Veggie burger
A veggie burger is a hamburger-style, or chicken-style, patty that does not contain animal flesh, but may contain animal products such as egg or milk. The patty of a veggie burger may be made from vegetables (like corn), textured vegetable protein (like soy), legumes (beans), tofu, nuts, mushrooms, or grains or seeds, like wheat and flax.
The veggie burger, by name, may have been created in London in 1982 by Gregory Sams, who called it the ‘VegeBurger’. Gregory and his brother Craig had run a natural food restaurant in Paddington since the 1960s; a Carrefour hypermarket in Southampton sold 2000 packets in three weeks after its launch.
Using the name Gardenburger, an early veggie burger was developed by Paul Wenner around 1980 or 1981 in Wenner’s vegetarian restaurant, The Gardenhouse, in Gresham, Oregon.
4 October 1954, Austin (MN) Daily Herald, pg. 12, col. 1 ad:
JUMBO DOUBLE DECKER
King Size for Sure
12 August 1955, Estherville (IA) Daily News, pg. 5, col. 1 ad:
17 September 1961, Kokomo (IN) Tribune, pg. 39=8, cols. 1-2:
512 W. Jackson St.
2 slices toasted bread, buttered and broken
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup celery, stripped and diced
2-3 cup grated carrots
2 hard boiled eggs, diced
1/2 tsp. paprika
4 tbsp. melted margarine
Place bread in dish and pour mushrooms and juice over it. Soak until soft. Add all of remaining ingredients and mix well.
15 March 1965, The Post (Frederick, MD), pg. 3, col. 1:
Meatless Meals for Lent
1 can vegetable burger
Vegeburger (purchase at Prospect Safeway Store)
3 T margarine or oil
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
3/4 t salt
1 small onion grated
2 T milk
1 egg beaten
1 cup dry crumbs
Make a thick white sauce of the oil, flour, milk and salt. Add the burger and onion. Make into croquettes. Dip into crumbs, then egg and milk mixture—and then into crumbs. Let stand 15 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
24 September 1972, Sunday Herald Traveler and Sunday Advertiser (Boston, MA), “Arrest Cos Vegetarians’ Group” (AP), pg. 6, col. 8:
Several persons were eating French fries and vegetable-burgers, drinking soft drinks and passing out free vegetables.
4 July 1973, Springfield (MA) Union, “What’s in a Burger?,” pg. 31, col. 5:
CHINESE VEGETABLE BURGERS: Drain one can (one pound) chop suey vegetables and add one teaspoon soy sauce and one half-teaspoon ginger to meat mixture before mixing and shaping. Yield: six to eight burgers.
23 September 1976, Camden (AR) News, pg. 11A, col. 2:
1 16 oz. can mixed vegetables
1 lb. hamburger meat
1044 Pine St. Apt. 2
1 September 1977, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. C-16, col. 6 ad:
READY MIX VEGETABLE BURGERS… 7 oz. 99c
1 November 1978, Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, “Add Wheat Germ To Burgers,” pg. 1D, col.s 1-2:
Did you know you can make a better burger with wheat germ? The consumer consultants in the Kretschmer Kitchens have come up with a brand new recipe that’s extra healthful and tasty. One look at the list of ingredients tells why.
Everything in it is nourishing and nutritious—vacuum packed regular wheat germ, grated zucchini, jack cheese, mushrooms, oinion and eggs. Merely shape these ingredients into plump patties and saute quickly in butter.
Wheat Germ Veggie Burgers
31 December 1978, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Did You Hear the One About California?” by Abe Peck (Chicago Sun-Times), sec. 3, pg. 8, col. 5:
In a related development, rock musician Meat Loaf will go on a health kick, eating only natural foods. He will change his name to Veggie Burger.
A Novel of Colorado
By Tom Huth
New York, NY: Delacorte Press
He stopped at a waterfall, practiced Breath of Fire, ate the salami sandwich that Mary had made for him and the veggie-burger from Stacie, and kept going. In the higher country, the trail was snowed over.
9 October 1980, San Diego (CA) Union, “Wheat Germ: Rich, Nutty And Nutritious” by Jeannette Branin, pg. C-29, col. 2:
Every ingredient in the Veggie Burger is nourishing and nutritious—wheat germ, zucchini, cheese, mushroom, onion and eggs. Wheat germ, one of the world’s most nutritious natural foods, adds a delicate nutty flavor to the vegetable burger.
WHEAT GERM VEGGIE BURGERS
The Realeat Company history, to April 1984
Since it’s introduction in 1982, the VegeBurger has proven itself to be “one of the most successful products ever to be launched in health food stores” (Natural Food Trader, July 1983). The VegeBurger was created as a healthy alternative to the hamburger - epitome of fast food. Its inventor, Gregory Sams, has been in the natural food movement since 1968, when he opened “SEED” restaurant in a Paddington basement, counting John Lennon and Yoko Ono as regular customers, and introducing the late 60’s generation to the brand new notion that eating natural foods made you feel good.
26 August 1983, Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, “Okra Kabobs And Rhubarb Pizza To Go” by Dick West (UPI), pg. 4A, col. 4:
Although I can sympathize with their basic objective, do they have to call the transition alternative a “veggie burger?”
I’m sure I try as you and your gourmet friends to stay abreast of the culinary trends sweeping across our land, but I don’t think I could ever bring myself to go into a fast food outlet and order a “veggie burger.”
23 May 1990, The News (Frederick, MD), “A fresh look at soy products” by Joycelyn Winnecke (Scripps Howard News Service), pg. C-3, col. 1:
ADM expects to be selling its dry and frozen “veggie burger”—not officially named yet—to health-food stores in the next few weeks; fast-food restaurants in six months; restaurant supply groups, hospitals, hotels and other areas of the food service industry soon after; and grocery stores within a year.
13 August 1995, Rockford (IL) Register Star, “Americans flirt with meatless eating,” pg. 2G, col. 2:
Archer Daniels Midland Co. has sold a veggie burger under the Green Giant label nationally for a year, with results “far beyond our expectations, says Larry Cunningham of ADM.
The Story of the Veggie Burger
January 14, 2014
RUSH: I said that Archer Daniels Midland invented the veggie burger. You should’ve seen the looks I got on the other side of the glass. “What are you talking about, Archer Daniels Midland invented the veggie burger?” Let me explain it to you. Back in the 1980s, Archer Daniels Midland was of the sponsor every Sunday of This Week with David Brinkley, and occasionally they’d buy time on the CBS Sunday show, and occasionally Meet the Press.
But they were in there every week on ABC, and they ran a great commercial about all the great things they were doing to create food and grow the food supply and the wonderful things they were doing with chemicals and soybeans.
People were going to grocery store and asking for the Archer Daniels Midland section. There wasn’t one. Their food processors, their label, their brand’s not on anything. People started going to the grocery stores, “I want a veggie burger. Where are they?” “We don’t have any. What do you mean?” “It’s on television every Sunday! I saw it on TV. Some company, ADM, Archer Daniels Midland. It looks delicious. I want to try it,” because it was being touted as healthful, low calorie.
So they had to create one. It might have been the Jolly Green Giant. I forget what the brand was, but they were frozen. They ended up being in the frozen food section. They were veggie burgers, and they were good (if you put a lot of mustard on ‘em and a lot of ketchup and a lot of mayonnaise and a lot of onions). It might have been MorningStar. It might have been. That sounds vaguely familiar. Now, when I say there weren’t veggie burgers, again, your local restaurant might have had one.
RUSH: By the way, the Archer Daniels Midland veggie burger, it was 1989 when they started it all up. And they had to close the veggie burger factory in 2007 because of lack of interest.