What's A 'Jucy Lucy' Burger, And Where Did It Get Its Name?

juicy lucy burger
juicy lucy burger - Bhofack2/Getty Images

If you've ever been to Minnesota, you may have had one of the state's culinary marks of fame: the Juicy Lucy burger. Don't let its ordinary appearance — a burger patty on two buns — fool you. The Juicy Lucy comes with a warning from servers prior to eating — let the burger cool to avoid getting burnt. The sandwich hides a molten layer of gooey American cheese that bursts out with that first bite. The cheese is what gives the Juicy Lucy its signature identity.

Although you may find several copycats online, you'll have to make a trip to the Gopher State if you want to eat the burger in its original recipe. Though there are several contenders for the Juicy Lucy throne, the Chicago Tribune traces its origin back to Matt's Bar in Corcoran. In 1954, owner Matt Bristol reported whipped up the sandwich that would become the hallmark of the establishment. As general manager Amy Feriancek explained to the outlet, "a Jucy Lucy is a burger that was created here by Matt Bristol in 1954, the year he opened. He and a few locals were here on an afternoon when it was slower, and he created this wonderful burger."

According to the restaurant, a customer asked Bristol to fix the sandwich. Not expecting the heat from the burger, they supposedly said, "Wow, that's one Juicy Lucy!" The restaurant says the name has stuck ever since, but there's another contender for Juicy Lucy.

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A Tale Of Two Bars

juicy lucy burgers with lettuce
juicy lucy burgers with lettuce - Ruslan Mitin/Shutterstock

Matt's Bar may have coined the name Jucy Lucy, but the 5-8 Club in Minneapolis has a Juicy Lucy (with an "i" in the name). Some customers swear that the 5-8 Club is the originator of the burger, not Matt's Bar. It's enough to create a bit of a rivalry, at least among fans, between the two establishments. The 5-8 Club's owner Jill Skogheim doesn't know how the burger got its start, except it began in the 1950s. She told the Chicago Tribune, "According to our customers, somebody at the 5-8 Club invented the Juicy Lucy back in the 1950s."

Although Matt's Bar has a more concrete origin story for the sandwich, the 5-8 Club is an older establishment, stretching back to the Prohibition Era. It got its start as a speakeasy, selling illegal alcohol during this time period. But in the modern era, it's the Juicy Lucy that is its claim to fame. Skogeheim said to the Chicago Tribune, "The one thing that's indisputable. We were around longer than any of them."

For the most part, both establishments say the rivalry is made up by their customers and has done well for their businesses. Customers will often journey to each restaurant to compare and contrast the burgers. Still, the restaurants aren't above taking shots at each other. For instance, Matt's Bar wrote on its website, "Remember, if it's spelled correctly, you just might be eating a shameless ripoff!"

The Ingredients That Make A Juicy Lucy

juicy lucy with cheese
juicy lucy with cheese - Ruslan Mitin/Shutterstock

The Juicy Lucy is known for its simplicity. Besides meat and cheese, the only other addition is onions. Ketchup and mustard aren't added in Minnesota, and it's a bit frowned upon to ask for tomatoes or lettuce for garnishment. When it comes to Matt's Bar, the establishment seems to relish in its simplicity — fixing the sandwich largely the same as Matt himself did all those years ago.

In comparison, the 5-8 Club appears to be a bit more adventurous. While it does offer the classic Juicy Lucy, it's also a bit more experimental when it comes to toppings. For instance, you can get an assortment of cheeses besides just American, including Swiss, pepper jack, and even bleu cheese. The 5-8 Club is also more willing to try out new ingredients, such as a peanut butter and jelly-filled burger that you'd probably either love or hate. And at Thanksgiving time, the restaurant offers a turkey burger to embrace the holiday season. All of these additions may dilute what makes the original special, but it does offer more options for customers.

Ultimately, both restaurants have die-hard fans. When it comes to the battle for the best Juicy Lucy, the customers are the real winners.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.