Unlike a play party, most munches are casual affairs that exclude fetish attire or BDSM play, though a rare few include covert Master/slave interactions or other play. Some munches may have a specific focus, such as spirituality or whips. Others may be restricted to a specific group, such as women or submissives.
One of the alt.sex.bondage and BABES members, by the name of STella(tm) organized a social meeting at Flames, a coffeehouse in Santa Clara, California. It was a quiet meeting in one corner of a family-oriented coffee house.
After that, an informal rotation of meeting sponsors and locations was instituted, with widely varying amounts success. Not long afterward, STella(tm) suggested that a standard time and location be chosen, and selected Kirk's Steakburgers at 361 S California Avenue in Palo Alto, as it had both great hamburgers and a spacious patio where attendees could meet in relative privacy. This was known as the "burger munch". (That Kirk's location was demolished, though a few other locations still exist.)
The Kirk's burger munch attracted a large and often spirited crowd, with discreet play. As time went on, the atmosphere became less discreet and people started bringing in outside food. Ultimately, the management insisted that the group stop meeting there.
Many of the original participants found another social gathering just down the street, though STella requested they not use the name "burger munch". The name was shortened to "munch" and the gathering took on a quieter tone. The organizer of the first spin-off munch, Miss Vicki, still runs a munch in the SF Bay Area (www.TheMunch.org).
Subsequent munches have emphasized a "socially acceptable" demeanor.
The term 'Burger Munch' was not only used at the Palo Alto munch, but was also used in Boston in 1994 and possibly earlier, meetings being held at Mr Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Sq. Someone very active in the scene at that time and today has said that the first munches in the US were called 'burger munches' and were in SF, LA, and Boston. Some of the Boston attendees became somewhat famous, or infamous, as they were models for images in the noteworthy book 'Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns'.