Meatloaf originates in Ancient Rome, where it appears in 5th Century cookbooks. Modern American references to meatloaf first appear in print in 1899, shortly after the invention of mechanical meat grinders.
Meatloaf's current popularity in the United States dates back to the Great Depression and World War II due to economic hardship and wartime rationing. The fillers found in meatloaf, such as bread crumbs and eggs, lower the cost of the meal by taking the place of some of the meat content.
In addition to its prevalence in the United States, meatloaf is a popular dish worldwide. Local versions exist in Germany, Cuba, Greece, Mongolia and other countries.