Editor's note: Burgermeisters! Here's another excerpt from George Motz's book Hamburger America. George and his publisher were kind enough to allow us to run them here, along with George's beautiful photos. Eat up!

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20080725-hamambook.jpgThe Snappy Lunch sells a curiosity called the Breaded Hamburger. Sometimes referred to as the "No-Burger." or the "old fashioned," this throwback to the Depression was invented when meat was scarce. At the Snappy Lunch, the breaded burger still out-sells the regular burger on the menu three to one.

"I don’t even get into it with out-of-towners," said Mary Dowell, wife of long-time owner and local food celebrity Charles Dowell. "I don't even like them!" she told me with a smile. I tried my first Depression-era burger at the Snappy Lunch and really liked it. It kind of resembled a bland crab cake with ground beef inside. "What do ya think?" Mary asked. I told her it tasted like a biscuit and she informed me that I had named the main ingredient.

Charles has been a fixture at the Snappy Lunch since 1943 where at age fifteen he was paid $10 a week. Eight years later his father, a local grocer, helped Charles negotiate the purchase of a share in the restaurant and in 1960 became the sole owner.

In the recently renovated gleaming kitchen at the rear of the restaurant I met 16-year veteran cook Diane. "I never thought a breaded burger could out-sell the regular burger, but they do, every day."

Hamburger America is available at Amazon and comes with a DVD of George's movie of the same title.

Snappy Lunch

125 North Main Street, Mount Airy NC 27030 (map)
336-786-4931
Mon., Wed., and Fri., 5:45 a.m. - 1:45 p.m.; Tues., Thurs., and Sat., 5:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.
thesnappylunch.com

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