When the food chain first opened its first location in Winnipeg, in the mid-1950s, it served a range of sandwiches and burgers that were so popular that it became the focus of a documentary.
The film’s producer, Michael Eisner, says the burger-and-cheese chain had its own flavour.
(CBC) “We had a bunch of burgers and a couple of fried chicken sandwiches and hamburgies,” Eisner said.
“But that was pretty much it.
We didn’t have any kind of cheese.
We couldn’t have fries.
We just served burgers.”
It was a time of change in Canadian cuisine.
The hamburger had been a staple of American culture for years.
But the hamburger was also a national dish.
Canada had become the world’s biggest exporter of beef and pork in the early 20th century.
In the 1950s, Canada exported more than 80 per cent of its beef to the United States.
By the early 1960s, the country was exporting more beef than any other country, and Canadian beef was the world leading beef supplier.
But by the early 1970s, U.S. demand for Canadian beef dropped off dramatically.
“The hamburger became a national staple, and in the ’70s, a lot of people thought it was going to die off,” Eisch said.
By then, the chain was expanding to more markets in the U.K., Mexico and Asia.
“There were so many things to do in those markets, and we had to try to stay on top of them,” Eichen said.
Eisner and his co-producer, Tim Winton, spent three years researching how the chain came to thrive in the city they’d always wanted to live in.
They visited every restaurant in the chain’s original downtown Winnipeg location and recorded every meal.
The result is a documentary called Hamburger Stew that chronicles how the burger was brought to Winnipeg and the people who loved it.
The video is part of the 2017-18 Winnipeg Food and Beverage Festival.
Eichen, a native of Alberta, and Winton are from Ontario.
The two have been working on the documentary since the summer of 2018, Eisner recalled.
“It’s been a long process, and it’s been very challenging because it’s a very Canadian film,” he said.
It’s a documentary that’s part of a new season of CBC Manitoba’s The Winnipeg Food Show.
The festival will be held from March 21 to March 27 at the Winnipeg Marriott Downtown.
The Manitoba Food Show features a variety of food and drink products, including hot dogs, burgers, pattys and a variety that’s Canadian.