HERE'S THE BEEF: Americans love hamburgers, and so do area residents

May 15—Americans eat an average of three hamburgers a week, and as a nation, they eat over 50 billion burgers a year.

Tuesday, May 28, is National Hamburger Day, and for good reason. Burgers are favorites of people who frequent sit-down restaurants, hole-in-the-wall joints, and franchises that populate the landscape.

Beef has many hidden costs that make a huge impact on the environment, according to an article on PBS News Hour. The article, written in 2012 and titled "The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers," states it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. In total, 6-1/2 pounds of greenhouse gases are released to produce just one quarter-pounder, states the article.

But these facts have not stopped the consumption of hamburgers, and neither have the dire warnings about the impact on health.

In Tahlequah, several eateries serve their tried-and-true versions of the beefy sandwich.

At Southside Drive-In, a grandmother waited this week in anticipation of her order, along with her son and granddaughter. They live in Stilwell, and when in Tahlequah, they make a point to eat at the diner. The restaurant has been at 116 S. Muskogee Ave. since 1950, but has operated under several owners.

Kinley Buckner, the 3-year-old granddaughter of Rinda Catron, was the Dream Star Princess at last weekend's Stilwell Strawberry Festival.

"She got fashionista — she got it all," said her uncle, Keith Duncan. "Then she did the mutton-busting Saturday night at the rodeo."

Her uncle and grandmother ordered burgers and fries, but Kinley prefers chicken strips.

"The burgers are old-fashioned and I like the way they taste," Duncan said. "I've been eating here for 20-30 years."

Catron said she eats burgers at least twice a week. Stilwell doesn't have the small burger joints like Tahlequah, Catron said.

The price of a plain burger at Southside is $3.80, which is another reason the family choses the restaurant. Duncan said he eats a burger every other day at either McDonalds or Sonic Drive-In, though he prefers places like Southside.

Chris Nottingham's family owns the famous diner and is the fry cook.

"I cooked over 200 burgers yesterday; I usually cook 160-180 every day," Nottingham said.

People wonder why it tastes like an old-fashioned burger, and Nottingham thinks its because of the grill. His father bought the restaurant about 15 years ago and the grill has been in use since 1950.

Presley Burgers has been in business under that surname for 13-15 years, said Chris Ragsdale, an employee for three years.

People like the burgers because they are fresh-pressed and never frozen, Ragsdale said. The favorites are bacon cheeseburgers, onion straws and "toothpicks." The onion straws are thin onion rings, and toothpicks are onions and jalapeños.

"I had to start eating my burgers without a bun because of the calories," Ragsdale said. "My husband and I came here for years before I started working here."

Sandy and Randy Presley were the original owners, and now, Brad Presley, their son, manages the eatery, Ragsdale said.

Steve Carey loves hamburgers, but with a beach holiday on the horizon, he is trying to eat heathy, and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich at Whataburger this week. But his favorite is a plain cheeseburger.

"It's my favorite food," Carey said. "But I'm trying to get in shape for the beach, and burgers aren't good for the waistline. And at Presley's, I'm a fixture."

His favorite fries are home-cut, like the ones he gets at Five Guys when he is in a town where one of the chain restaurants is located.

"My doctor doesn't want me to eat a bunch of burgers, so that's another reason I'm eating so much grilled chicken," Carey said.

Liz Rose, who manages Boomarang Diner, said they are asking people to vote on their favorite of three specialty burgers. The Rebel, the Duke and the Island Jack each have unique flavors.

"My preference is the Duke because I like the barbecue sauce, and the combination of cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce is really good," Rose said. "It has an onion ring on it."

The Island Jack has Thousand Island dressing, pepper jack cheese and lettuce and tomato. The Rebel has peanut butter, bacon and cheese.

"The No. 1-selling burger is the Old-Fashioned, and we sell a lot of patty melts, too," Rose said.

Wanda and Bill Cole frequent Boomarang, and Wanda's favorite is the KV Burger.

"We've been coming here for probably eight-10 years," Wanda said. "I get all the fixings — grilled mushrooms, onions and all the trimmings — and I order onion rings with it."