Want to discover the complete history of the hamburger in two minutes and 11 seconds? Here's a clip from National Geographic Channel's miniseries EAT: The Story of Food which traces the dish all the way back to the days of Genghis Khan (aka the late 12th century). Mongolian soldiers apparently carried meat under their saddles "because they realized it would be tenderized as they were banging away against the saddle as they wrote," says TV foodperson Simon Majumdar. The Mongols are credited with bringing it West, to Russia and Germany (where the Hamburg steak originated).
As legend has it, the Hamburg steak became the modern-day version of the hamburger-on-a-bun during an American state fair: When vendors ran out of plates to serve the steak, they gave it to customers on bread. "Through these kind of acts of chance or serendipity is how you develop a dish," Majumdar says. EAT: The Story of Food debuts tonight, November 21, but first, catch the clip above.