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75 Years Ago, Joe Bury sells Four and a Half TONS of Hamburgers at the York Fair

Article in October 10, 1939 issue of The Gazette and Daily (Newspaper Microfilms of York County Heritage Trust)
Article in October 10, 1939 issue of The Gazette and Daily (Newspaper Microfilms of York County Heritage Trust)

At the completion of the 1939 York Fair, The Gazette and Daily reported:

Joe Bury rightfully deserves the title of York’s hamburg king. A total of 44,750 hamburgers crossed the counter at his stand on the fair grounds last week. He disposed of 8,950 pounds of hamburg, almost four and a half tons, and 3,600 pounds more than was sold at the 1938 fair.

The title of the article, “Wimpy Must Have Been At The Fair,” refers to Popeye’s side-kick Wimpy. Wimpy loves to eat hamburgers and is usually seen carrying one or eating mass quantities at a time, however, he is usually too cheap to pay for them himself. A recurring bit, in the comic strip, involves Wimpy’s attempts to con other patrons of the diner into buying him hamburgers. Wimpy’s character started to use his best-known catchphrase in 1932; “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”.

To make Bury’s feat even more astonishing, in 1939 the York Fair only ran 5 days and 5 nights; Tuesday through Saturday. Two paragraphs from The Gazette and Daily report on “Getting Grounds Ready For Fair” follow from their September 23, 1939 issue:

Buildings and grounds on the York Interstate Fair grounds are being put into shape for the opening of the fair, October 3, to operate day and night to Saturday, October 7, inclusive.

Elton Kohr, frozen custard dealer; Joe Bury, the hamburger man, and Fred Bierman, operator of the large restaurant on the grounds, are again preparing to serve patrons during Fair week.

“Strange As It Seems”

Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not”

During the 1940 York Fair the October 5, 1940 issue of The Gazette and Daily reported:

Bury’s Hamburg’s New Record

Yesterday [Friday] Joe Bury’s hamburg stand reached its record of last year, consuming to date 8,950 pounds of hamburg since the opening of the fair. There is still one more day to go and managers of the stand are hoping that this achievement will be written up in Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” column, which is internationally known. The Bury hamburgs did succeed in getting a write-up in the “Strange As It Seems” column authorized by John Hix. This was in 1938, when 5,473 pounds of hamburg had been used.

I searched for a Bury’s mention in Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” and did not find one, however most of Ripley’s columns do not appear to be indexed. Nevertheless, the new record amount of hamburg that Joe Bury sold at the 5-day 1940 York Fair totaled 12,200 pounds; 6.1 TONS.

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