The steamed cheeseburger is believed to have been invented at a restaurant called "Jack's Place" in Middletown, Connecticut, in the 1930s. However, as with many such restaurant food icons, the origin is somewhat unclear. Nevertheless, it is undisputed that Ted Duberek opened his namesake restaurant serving the steamed burgers in 1930 in Meriden, catering to the then significant local factory worker population. Early on, as the local factories were working round the clock, Ted's would stay open until 4:00 A.M.
Times changed and the factories began moving their manufacturing overseas. Yet Ted's remained in business, though with shorter hours. After Ted Duberek died in the early 1970s, his son, Paul Duberek, took over, running the business until 2007. That year, Paul sold out to his nephew, Bill Foreman, who had worked at Ted's while he attended high school and college. Bill has continued running the business with few changes and the steamed cheeseburger remains the featured menu item. One innovation the restaurant has introduced is the "Steam Machine," a food truck which is making the signature burgers as well as cheese-covered hot dogs available to a broader audience.
The steamed cheeseburger is cooked in a stainless-steel cabinet which contains small trays that hold either an individual hamburger or a chunk of cheese to be melted. The cheeseburger is served by scooping the meat onto a bun and pouring the melted cheese over the meat. This method of cooking causes the fats in the meat to melt away, leaving a moist burger which is then covered with the melted cheese. The burger is served with a number of customary toppings.
In addition to a strong local following in Meriden, Ted's has attracted more widespread attention with its appearance in the documentary Hamburger America, as well as such publications as the US News and World Report, Yankee Magazine and Connecticut Magazine. It has been shown and mentioned on several Travel Channel shows, including Hamburger Paradise, Man v. Food with host Adam Richman, and Burger Land with host George Motz.
- George Motz (2011). Hamburger America: A State-by-state Guide to 150 Great Burger Joints. Running Press. pp. 53–54. ISBN 9780762440702. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- M. Keith Booker (2012), Blue-Collar Pop Culture: From NASCAR to Jersey Shore, Vol. 1, ABC-CLIO, p. 252, ISBN 9780313391989
- Ann DeMatteo (22 November 2011), "'Meat and cheese in every bite': Ted's brings steamed burgers to North Haven", New Haven Register, retrieved 27 April 2016
- Sara Grant (3 July 2014), "Ted's Steam Machine: Cheesy Goodness In The Park", Hartford Courant, retrieved 27 April 2016
- Patricia Harris and David Lyon (21 September 2013), "Getting steamed is the only way at Ted’s in Meriden, Conn.", Boston Globe, retrieved 26 April 2016
- "The Steamed Cheeseburger Comes To Cromwell". Hartford Courant.
- "Connecticut is weird and so are its steamed cheeseburgers (I ate it so you don't have to)". The Republican.
- "Meriden burger delicacy goes mobile with Ted’s ‘Steam Machine’". Record-Journal.
- Hamburger America. Running Press.
- "In Connecticut, Steamed Cheeseburger is King". QSR.
- "National Hamburger Month: We Line Up Connecticut's Most Iconic Burgers". Chicago Tribune.