You Can Thank A&W For The Creation Of The Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon has seemingly made its way into every food dish possible, so it seems strange to think about a time when it wasn't normal for the breakfast staple to sit on top of a juicy cheeseburger. There was a time, however, when bacon cheeseburgers were nowhere to be found on your favorite burger joint's menu, and it's not as long ago as you might think.

Believe it or not, restaurant chain A&W is responsible for creating the bacon cheeseburger back in 1963, though the story of the sandwich's conception is a bit murky. Apparently, franchise owner and eventual A&W president Dale Mulder noticed that several customers at his Lansing, Michigan, restaurant were requesting a few strips of bacon in between their buns, prompting him to make the combination an official menu offering. However, in a slightly different version of the story, Mulder gave himself all of the credit, saying he looked at a cheeseburger and thought, "It absolutely [would] be better with bacon" — according to Click on Detroit. Though the true origins of the beloved handheld may be unclear, one fact that remains true across both accounts is that Mulder made the pivotal decision to put the bacon cheeseburger on A&W's menu in 1963, creating a path for some of the absolute best burgers in the U.S.

Some take issue with A&W's claim

A&W maintains it was the first to offer the bacon cheeseburger. "A bacon burger became a big item in the restaurant business," Dale Mulder told Click on Detroit. "And everyone else stole it from us." The company even ran an ad campaign in 2014 to help further spread the word that the franchisee created the sandwich for A&W.

After posting one of the advertisements to the A&W Restaurants YouTube channel in 2014, not one but two people commented disputing the claim. According to one commenter, the bacon cheeseburger was actually invented in 1941 by a man named Rock Hibbard at the Buffalo Drugstore in Houston, Texas. There's little evidence elsewhere on the internet to back up this claim.

However, a second commenter's assertion that Ember's, an upper midwestern chain that started in Minnesota, was the first to conceptualize the bacon cheeseburger seems to hold some weight. The restaurant first opened its doors in 1956 with its signature dish, a bacon cheeseburger known as the Emberger Royal, reportedly helming its menu. Still, it doesn't seem as though Ember's, which closed down its last location in 2021, ever made any real attempt to take ownership of the bacon cheeseburger, so perhaps A&W can lay claim to its legacy for a bit longer.