We’ll give you this: you know how to buy the food, fire up your grill, and make something so delicious that your family and friends will be singing your praises. But what you might not know is how grilling began. Care to guess?
To be as precise as we can, grilling began about 500,000 years ago at the time of the domestication of fire, which makes complete sense if you think about it. While our early ancestors might have been raw food junkies out of necessity, fire definitely gave them more options. There is an opinion that the idea of cooking meat came from forest fires that burned animals which made them taste better and easier to chew. Could be. In any case, since men were the main hunters, women would be in charge of cooking. So they’re more than welcome to claim credit as the first grill masters we know of.
As you probably know, although the words are sometimes interchangeable, grilling and barbecue aren’t the same thing. As Tori Avey writes, “the word barbecue likely originated with the Caribbean Taino Indians, who would smoke or dry meat over a frame made of green sticks. Edward Ward recorded one of the earliest English tales of barbecue in his travel account, “The Barbacue Feast: or, the three pigs of Peckham, broil’d under an apple-tree.” The pamphlet was published in London in 1706. In his story, several English colonists had been enjoying a rum-filled evening in Peckham, Jamaica when their bellies began to rumble. They decided to create a rack from sticks with a fire burning beneath. Once the fire had burned the sticks down to coal, long wooden spits were placed across the rack and topped with three whole pigs. Using the resources available to them, the men crafted a foxtail “brush” to baste the meat with a mixture of pepper and Madeira wine. The pigs were cooked for several hours before being removed, portioned, and distributed to onlookers. Cooking food over a fire was nothing new, but the social aspect of barbecue was a new and noteworthy experience for Ward. He described how the events were scheduled to start well before the food was served. Guests gathered around to watch every detail of the cooking process, from the construction of the pit to the removal of the meat from the fire. Cooking became a communal experience.”
Another source gives credit for the barbecue to the Arawak people of the Caribbean. The Arawaks also gave the English language the word cannibal, but we’ll just skip over that one.
If we jump ahead a few centuries, we learn that barbecue pits were built with stones or bricks above ground. In 1897, Ellsworth Zwoyer patented the charcoal briquette. In the 1920s, Henry Ford, in collaboration with Thomas Edison and EB Kingsford, began commercial manufacturing by making the briquettes sawdust and wood scraps from Ford’s auto plants.
Brick and fieldstone barbecues became common in parks and backyards, but they weren’t easy to build. Somewhere along the way somebody cut a steel drum in half lengthwise, hinged the two parts together like a clamshell, and attached four legs. The quest to build the perfect backyard barbecue was on. After World War II when people began to move into the suburbs, outdoor grilling became quite the craze and remains so today.
While we applaud the inventions of all of the above, we feel a little sad that none of those people had the advantage of the being able to use a top-notch, top-quality grill scraper like the ones that we make! Our scrapers will keep your grill clean and well-maintained. You can get a mini one, or a heavy duty one, or a heavy duty one with a squeegee. Any of them will get the job done right, save you time and money, and take some pressure off your back, legs and feet. If only the Arawaks had known.
If this is your first time visiting us, we’d like you to know that our products are made right here in the USA. This is something we’re extremely proud of. We know that it helps to keep Americans working, and there’s no question that we help them keep on grilling. Either in a restaurant, or in a food truck, or right at home.
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