So this is completely anecdotal, but when looking for restaurants on google, I've noticed that many restaurants put a steak knife in the burger on pictures. I can't recall ever being served a burger this way, so why do they do it in the pictures?

My guess it's for scale or showing how "manly" the burger is. Also, I'm in suburban Detroit if this is a regional thing.

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    The discussion was getting a bit crazy so I moved it to chat. – AJ Henderson May 4 '18 at 17:17
  • Not a steak knife, self defense knife. The Photographers assistent needs it to keep the watchers from grabbing and eating the burger ;) – TomTom May 5 '18 at 0:02

The knife is there for 2 reasons: Stabilize the burgertower and as a knife to aid you for cutting.


I've noticed that many restaurants put a steak knife in the burger on pictures.

  1. This may be an example of a filter bubble. I just used Google to search for burger images, and of the hundreds of photos returned, not one had a knife stuck in it. So perhaps you clicked on a few burger photos that do include knives, or looked at a few restaurants that happen to server impaled burgers, and now Google thinks that that's your idea of a really appealing burger.

  2. I can't dispute your search results, but I think using the word "many" is an exaggeration. Some restaurants do stab their burgers, but I think it's safe to say that restaurants that depict their burgers with a knife stuck in them are a small minority of burger places overall. It's only a particular segment of burger producers that would even consider it: sit down places (because you can't take that kind of thing out) that want to have something really impressive on the menu just in case Guy Fieri drops in with a camera crew.

  3. If you're going to post photos of your burgers online, are you going to show a run-of-the-mill single-patty with Swiss cheese and mushrooms? Or are you going to show your signature Quadruple Deluxe Monsterburger Platter with the optional fried egg and bottomless fries? If you're advertising food, in the US at least, it's go big or go home.

  4. The knife makes the burger look even taller and more impressive than it already is.

  5. Nobody who isn't Paul Bunyan can pick up that Quadruple Deluxe Monsterburger, let alone open their burger-hole wide enough to take a bite, so a knife is both a necessary part of the package and a visual clue that you're meant to consume this dish in smaller pieces.

  6. When people contribute photos to review sites like Yelp! or to social media like Facebook and Instagram, they want to impress their friends or readers. So they're more likely to post a photo of a burger with a big knife stuck in it than something more common and less interesting.

  • I liked your response even though I didn't pick it as a winner. For whatever it's worth I originally noticed this on the Google Maps app. I just dug the photos up this way to post them to the site. The pictures shown there usually appear to be well curated, but I'm not a photography expert by any means. You could be completely right on points 3,4, and 6 combined. – Steve May 4 '18 at 14:14
  • @Steve Which response best answers your question is entirely your decision, but I'd point out that the accepted answer explains why some places stick a knife in their burger, not why photos show a knife in the burger. – Caleb May 4 '18 at 14:18
  • read the last sentence of the first paragraph in my OP. I've never actually seen this in person, only in photos. I've had burgers at one of the above establishments too. Maybe I'll see if I can get one with a knife in it the next time I get it :D. To be honest I wouldn't even want that first monstrosity, I wouldn't get halfway through it. – Steve May 4 '18 at 15:23

Burgers at sit-down restaurants are often pinned or skewered with garnishing sticks, toothpicks, and the like, to keep the burger together as it's carried out to the table. It prevents the bun "lid" from falling off the burger (especially with American-style large burgers with thick-cut vegetables or fried toppings).

I wouldn't say knives as skewers are common. Just going by Google Image Search results, one might be inclined to think that something like Burgers as Garnish for Bloody Mary is common:

Ridiculous Bloody Mary garnished with burgers, wings, and hot dogs

But they're not common. Unless you reduce the search area to "Milwaukee or Minneapolis baseball parks, and specialty bars in Vancouver that try to go for the most ridiculous Bloody Caesar / Bloody Mary concoctions".

Yes, I posted this answer just to include the ridiculous drink garnished with junk food.


The knife is to stabilize the burger and avoid falling over. Thats all.

  • Oh and it just looks better than just a skewer. – Horitsu May 4 '18 at 5:03
  • I'd argue that a knife increases the opportunity for the burger falling over (by increasing the height of the center of gravity). It does help keep the burger together and prevent parts from sliding off. But the top-heavy knife-burger combo is actually more likely to fall over than a burger skewered with a toothpick or bamboo stick. – scottbb May 4 '18 at 20:02
  • @scottbb With their wooden handles and thin blades, restaurant steak knives have very little mass, so it's unlikely that adding the knife raises the center of gravity appreciably. And by locking the various layers together, the burger becomes more like a rigid unit with a single center of mass than like a stack of disconnected pieces that move independently. You're certainly right that it's far more likely that the entire burger is more likely to fall over with the knife, but only because that essentially couldn't occur at all with the layers disconnected. – Caleb May 4 '18 at 21:17
  • Oh I mixed up these both scenarios into one case. But I measured my own knifes and just my big kitchen knifes way over 100g. The normal knifes something between 40 to 80g. A normal small supermarket burger ways 150g. So a restaurant burger will weight more like 350 to 500g. The heavy part of a knife is the blade and it stucks half into the burger, so the knife will increase the mass center point, but not this far. It is still more save for the burger and looks better than without it. – Horitsu May 5 '18 at 13:45

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