Salisbury steak was invented by an American physician, Dr. J. H. Salisbury (1823–1905) and the name was in use by 1897. H. L. Mencken reported (in 1945) that the name was used to replace "hamburger steak" during World War I as a political euphemism.
Hamburger became popular during the 1960s as a more affordable way to serve otherwise costly meat. Magazines regularly printed the recipe during that decade, elevating it to a staple dish in Japanese culture. In Japan, the dish dates back to the Meiji period and is believed to have been first served in Yokohama, which was one of the first ports opened to foreigners. Since the 1980s, vacuum packed hamburgers were sold with sauce already added, and these are widely used in box lunches (bento). Frozen hamburgers are popular as well, often served in fast food style restaurants because they have a richer taste and firmer texture than vacuum-packed hamburger.
In many Southern American dining establishments, "hamburger steak" refers to a ground beef steak served without gravy, while "Salisbury steak" is only used for the version with gravy.
In Hawaii, Hamburger Steak is very similar to the Japanese Hamburg Steak. It consists of burger patty with brown gravy. It is usually served with macaroni salad and rice in a Plate lunch. There is also a variety which includes an egg, which is called Loco Moco.
In an episode of House (TV series), when a 600 lb patient is eating his meal, House asks him if he's enjoying his salisbury steak. He responds with "Putting chopped parsley on hamburger does not a salisbury steak make."