Today, it’s easy to order a chunk of animal flesh seared with black stripes on the outside and still bloody on the inside, garnished with a bit of coagulated milk protein now melted by heat — a cheeseburger, if it must be labeled. But apparently, such a dish was just odd when it first came out.
At The New York Times, Mark Bulik looks back in the paper’s archives at the first mentions of a cheeseburger.
A 1938 article puzzles over the “whimsy” of California eateries, which not only include buildings in the shape of windmills, lemons, oranges and shoes, but also serve strange foodstuffs.
While hotdogs and hamburgers are already “American national dishes,” variations like the “nutburger, cheeseburger, porkburger” and “turkeyburger” are “typical of California.” Reporter Elizabeth Forman was probably shaking her head in disbelief as she wrote it.
Fully credible adoption of the cheeseburger took time. Bulik writes:
Nine years later, the newspaper was taking the phenomenon a bit more seriously, though it still admitted that the very notion seemed preposterous.
“At first, the combination of beef with cheese and tomatoes, which sometimes are used, may seem bizarre,” The Times intoned on May 3, 1947. “If you reflect a bit, you’ll understand the combination is sound gastronomically.”
The article includes a helpful picture as if to assure the reader that cheeseburgers and tomato accompaniment are indeed a thing.
Of course, as a paper of record, The Times makes an effort to cover and even predict societal trends. Though — as the satirical Twitter account “The Times is On It” points out, the effort can occasionally seem a little behind the trend’s peak.
And when the topic includes a little bit of the famous New York City, Los Angeles rivalry, things can be amusing for both sides.
The Mail was founded in 1912 by Clarence Moody. Moody initially set up three newspapers – the Sporting Mail, Saturday Mail and the Mail. The first two titles lasted only two years and five years respectively.
The Mail went into liquidation in late 1914. Ownership passed briefly to George Annells and Frank Stone, and then to Herbert Syme.
In May 1923, News Limited purchased the Mail and moved the newspaper to North Terrace.
By this time the newspaper had developed a strong sporting focus. Results of weekend sporting matches of all types and grades were reported in the Mail.
A particular focus was given to football and horse racing, with many fine sporting photographs and articles being printed. West Torrens footballer and yachtsman Ossie O’Grady became sports writer in 1926 and wrote sometimes controversial sporting feature articles.
In the 1930s Ron Boland began his newspaper career as the horse racing writer, ‘Trafalgar’.
He was later to become editor of the News. Early motoring was another important feature of the newspaper from the 1920s, as was the advent of commercial radio and aviation.
From 1922 under the editorship of George Brickhill, the Mail was a well-presented newspaper with quality reading on a range of topics. No doubt the professionally presented real-estate pages helped fund the improvements.
The much-loved ‘Possum’s pages’ were born in 1921 as ‘the Mail Club’ with letters to ‘Clubmates’ written by ‘Possum’. The page was called ‘Mates own corner’. In 1924 May Gibbs’s gumnut babies, ‘Bib and Bub,’ were the first full-scale comic page in the Mail. They were joined in 1932 by Bancks’s Ginger Meggs.
During the Second World War Lionel Coventry’s ‘Alec the Airman’ joined the pages of the paper. Colour was introduced to the comics at the end of the war. Oswald Pryor was cartoonist for the Mail in 1922-1923, followed by Hal Gye and, in the late 1920s, R. W. Blundell. Harry Longson was cartoonist during the war years.
The Second World War had a major impact on many things, not least on newspaper reporting and production. Although horse racing and other sports were still covered in the pages of the Mail, space was also given to war news and the activities of the armed forces.
During the war the ‘Gossip by Deidre’ page gave way to the less frivolous ‘Diana’s notebook’ with photographs such as ‘Miss Patricia Hubbard at work in her father’s factory’ and other reflections of women’s war effort activities. Even the ‘Suburban acre’ gardening page took on a more serious tone as ‘Weeders digest’.
The paper’s name changed to the SA Sunday Mail on 6th February 1954, and then Sunday Mail in 1955. The original 1912 circulation of 15,000 had risen to 213,000 by 1962.
For its first 60 years the Mail was printed on Saturday nights. Initially two editions were published, with a ‘street’ edition coming out at about 7 pm, followed by a midnight edition which was sold to theatre crowds later in the evening, and distributed throughout the state on Sunday mornings.
The Sunday Mail was first published on a Sunday on 5th November 1972.
Inspired by Rob and Wendy Powell.