Theta Burgers

In the spirit of tradition, if we squint and look back in time before 1953, we just might see the (possibly apocryphal) birth of the Theta burger in Norman. The story goes that in the 1940s, Ralph Geist, the owner of the legendary Town Tavern on Campus Corner in Norman, was tired of dealing with the myriad and complicated custom late-night hamburger orders of the girls in a certain sorority. Apparently Ralph decided that he needed to reach a detente with these women, and they mutually negotiated a uniform hamburger order for the sorority, thus unleashing the Theta burger on Oklahoma. In addition to the Theta burger, Ralph’s Town Tavern had hand-painted scoreboards for every OU football season from 1947 on. After the Town Tavern closed, the scoreboards made their way to another local gem, The Mont, where the original scoreboards (and updates) hang today. If you go, order yourself a Theta burger. If not, try your hand at the recipe below:
By / Photography By Aaron Snow | July 01, 2015



Get your charcoal fire started and let it burn down for about 15 minutes. While waiting, make 6 beef patties (thinner than you would imagine is necessary). Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread a thin amount of butter on each top bun, set aside. Grill the burgers until medium well. About 3 minutes before the burgers are done, place the buns on the grill to toast. Take the burgers off the grill and let them rest while you prepare the garnish. Remove the toasted buns from the grill and spread hickory sauce on each top bun and aioli on each bottom bun. Put three pickle slices on each bottom bun then top with a burger patty. Use 1/6 of the cheese on top of each burger and then add the top bun. Enjoy!


  • 2 pounds 80% Angus ground Beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hickory sauce (Johnnie’s or Split-T if available)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Local sour pickle slices
  • 1 pound coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 6 sesame buns
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Lump charcoal
  • Charcoal grill (Weber is a good one)
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