"There is something about a hamburger that stirs echoes in all of us,” writes David Michaels, ruminating on the iconic fast food's role in popular culture. The author of The World is Your Hamburger: A Cultural History dedicates a hefty chapter of his well-researched tome to dissecting the unfolding impact of this humble sandwich—one of the weightiest, most recognizable cultural symbols of the last century. One enduring trend in Michaels' research is the glut of hamburger imagery in film and television—where a simple patty on a sesame seed bun can help develop a character, set a scene or establish an underlying metaphor. Burgers are about Americana and opportunity, says Michaels, and the same could be said for Hollywood itself. Celebrity photographers and Hollywood cinematographers have captured shots of America’s favorite stars eating America’s favorite sandwich for as long as there have been celebrity photographers and Hollywood cinematographers. And for good reason—there’s something compelling about seeing a larger-than-life figure eating like the little people. “This, ultimately, is the fate of the hamburger in popular culture,” writes Michaels, “to be ever-present and evocative.” —Hannah Walhout The following is excerpted with permission from The World is Your Hamburger: A Cultural History by David Michaels, Phaidon 2017.

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