We typically think of Genghis Khan as a ruthless tyrant, slaughtering nearby civilizations for the purpose of expanding the Mongolian Empire. But National Geographic is exploring a side effect of Khan’s conquests that would go on to shape American food culture forever: the rise of the hamburger.

According to the Nat Geo documentary EAT: The Story of Food: The History of the Hamburger, the lineage of In-N-Out burgers can be traced back to the 13th-century Mongolia. Here are some key take-aways:

  • Mongol warriors lived on the steppe, which posed a problem for acquiring food and wood.
  • As a survival mechanism, Mongolian cavalrymen would keep meat underneath their saddles to transport and tenderize meat.
  • They brought this technique west to the Russians, who turned the idea into steak tartare.
  • Via trade, the idea passed through Germany, where people began making ‘hamburg steaks’ in, you guessed it, Hamburg.
  • German immigrants moved to America, where the hamburg steak finally met its bun.

So there you have it. Next time you bite into a double cheeseburger, give a shout out to Genghis.

[via That’s Nerdalicious]

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