We Have The Seattle World's Fair To Thank For The Spaceburger

In 1962, the city of Seattle hosted the World's Fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition. The fair, which ran from April to October, drew over 10 million visitors and was responsible for the construction of the city's most famous structure, The Space Needle. The 1960s were a time when everyone in America was looking to the stars, thanks to President Kennedy's ambitious goal to go to the moon before the decade was out. But, there was another, more culinary icon to come out of the event: the spaceburger.

While many states have their own special rendition of the hamburger, Washington's is the only one that looks like a flying saucer. The spaceburger consists of burger components that have been sealed between two pieces of white bread. It takes a special machine to make the iconic UFO shape, the name and origin of which are unknown (cue "The Twilight Zone" theme). Basically, it is a hot press with two spherical molds that, when pressed together, seal and shape the burger.

The spaceburger was not to stay in Seattle, however. Though no one knows exactly how they got there, the spaceburger presses somehow ended up on the other side of the Cascade Mountains at the Lioness Club of Moses Lake. But made it they did, and the club has been pumping out spaceburgers to fundraise for local events for decades.

Getting your hands on a spaceburger

While the recipe for an original spaceburger is a secret closely guarded by those who know it, the construction of one is pretty straightforward. The elements are piled in the center of half of a white-bread bun before being topped with the other. The burger is then brought over to the spaceburger press, which is around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and pressed for up to a minute. The device toasts the bread and seals all the components inside, reheating the chuck patty and turning any cheese or sauces inside extra-oozy. The result is a compact, flying saucer-shaped burger served neatly in a little paper bag.

Though it originated there, Washington does not have a monopoly on spaceburgers. While you won't find them anywhere else in the United States, you will find some familiar-looking flying saucers in South Korea and Poland. Though they are called UFO burgers, the construction is basically the same. Each country's menus have a smattering of different types of burgers, all pressed into the signature molds, only these ones imprint "UFO" onto the bun. So, whether you're in central Washington, South Korea, or Poland, spaceburgers offer a bit of 60s retro in the 21st century.