Hamburger Helper is a packaged food product from General Mills, sold as part of the Betty Crocker brand. It consists of boxed dried pasta, with the seasonings contained in a powdered sauce packet. The product line also features products with other starches, such as rice or potatoes. The contents of each box are combined with browned ground beef (a.k.a. "hamburger"), water, and, with some varieties, milk to create a complete one-dish meal. There are also variations of the product designed for other meats, such as "Tuna Helper" and "Chicken Helper".
The packaged pasta brand "Hamburger Helper" was first introduced in 1971. It was introduced in response to a meat shortage and escalating meat prices. In 2005, Food Network rated it third on its list of "Top Five Fad Foods of 1970". In 2013, the company shortened the brand's name to just "Helper".
The Hamburger Helper mascot is "the Helping Hand" or "Lefty"—a four-fingered, left-hand white glove with a face on the palm and a red spherical nose. It often appears in the product's television commercials and on packages.
The basic (and most popular) version of Hamburger Helper is a box of dried pasta with seasoning that is designed to be cooked with ground beef. Hamburger Helper offers a variety of flavors, including Lasagne, Cheeseburger Macaroni, Bacon Cheeseburger, Philly Cheesesteak, and others.
There are also variations designed for other meats: "Tuna Helper" and "Chicken Helper".
- Tuna Helper was the second variety to appear on the market, in 1972.
- Fruit Helper was introduced in 1973. These were dessert products made with canned or fresh fruit. The Fruit Helper line has since been discontinued.
- Chicken Helper was first introduced in 1984 in response to the wide availability of inexpensive boneless and skinless chicken breasts.
- Asian Helper is a selection of four main Asian-American-style dishes, three made with chicken and one with beef.
- Whole Grain Helper options include Lemon & Herb Chicken, Honey Mustard Chicken, Cheeseburger Mac, and beef Stroganoff flavors made with whole-wheat pasta.
- Pork Helper was introduced in 2003. Varieties included pork fried rice and pork chops with stuffing. The product was discontinued shortly after its introduction.
- Hamburger Helper Microwave Singles were introduced in 2006. This product requires water and brief cooking in the microwave to produce a single serving portion of some of the most popular flavors. Chicken Helper flavors were added in 2007 despite the brand being discontinued shortly thereafter. It returned in 2013 as Chicken and Chili Helper.
In popular culture
On April 1, 2016, General Mills commissioned an EP as an April Fools' Day prank, titled Watch the Stove. According to a press release, the EP was produced for General Mills by a team at St. Paul, Minnesota's McNally Smith College of Music. The EP's title is a parody of the Jay-Z and Kanye West collaborative album Watch the Throne. It contains five songs, all of which are about Hamburger Helper. It instantly achieved a viral status, played over four million times on SoundCloud in less than three days, with many listeners finding value in the brand's promotion of younger artists.
- The Catering Industry Employee: Official Journal of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees' International Alliance and Bartenders' International League of America. 82 & 83. The Alliance. 1973. p. 7. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
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- Weissman, Saya (2013-11-23). "Hamburger Helper Is Awesome at Twitter. Really". Digiday. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- Ashman, Hollis; Beckley, Jacqueline (4 January 2007). "Product Spotlight: Hamburger Helper -- Instantly and For One". Food Processing. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
- "General Mills relaunches Hamburger Helper". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- Wong, Venessa (2013-07-09). "In Redesign, Hamburger Helper Drops the Hamburger". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- Carolyn Wyman (2004). Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods that Changed the Way We Eat. Quirk Books. pp. 20–. ISBN 978-1-931686-42-6. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- Betty Crocker Website
- "Pasta | The Whole Grains Council". wholegrainscouncil.org. Archived from the original on 2016-05-31. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
- "Hamburger Helper Announces ``Better Tasting Product Line | Business Wire". www.businesswire.com. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
- "Sam Raimi is Killed by Hamburger Helper in This Early Short Film | News Article". FEARnet. 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
- "Hamburger Helper Enters the Rap Scene With (Shockingly Great) Watch the Stove Mixtape". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
- "Here's The Story Behind Hamburger Helper's Viral Mixtape Watch the Stove has been played over 4 million times". Adweek. 2016-04-04. Retrieved 2016-04-09.