A look at the history of grilling shows us that the rise of suburban life and the Weber grill helped fuel our love of the backyard ritual.
It’s hard to imagine summer weekends and holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July without the grill going in the backyard. And what would a tailgate party before the big game be without some hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill? Grilling has become a major part of our culture in this country. It’s not just about the food though, it’s about bringing friends and family together for great times and delicious food. Let’s honor that tradition with a brief lesson on the history of grilling in this country.
The act of grilling food has been around for a very, very long time. It isn’t known exactly how cavemen learned to cook meat, but it likely happened sometime after the domestication of fire, about 500,000 years ago. In modern times, the ritual of cooking over open grills typically was done while camping or on outdoor picnics and it remained that way into the 1940’s. After World War II there was a great growth in the suburbs as many families had the money to move out of the cities and purchase homes. People had backyards with plenty of space and by the 1950’s grilling in America became a popular past time. This love of grilling was helped by the advent of the Weber grill. In 1952 George Stephen Sr. worked for Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago building marine buoys. Stephen was a lover of outdoor cooking and had an idea to build a grill that was better than the typical flat, open braziers that were available at the time. Inspired by the buoys at work he decided to cut one in half around the equator, added a grate, some vents and legs, and the first Weber grill was born. This new product took the backyard grill to another level and brought about the grilling frenzy that has grown into the major industry that we still love today.