As spring comes to an uneventful close, I once again find that it is time to bone up on the summer rituals: Geocaching, forestry, bird study, wind sprints in the yard, the kids timing me as I put up and take down the tent, and getting out and cleaning up the grill. I guess that goes without saying.

The Weber-Stephens Products Co. had been a metal works since 1893, but they made a name for themselves with a little innovation in 1951. Up until then, the relatively few Americans who cooked outdoors were doing so in an open brazier. Being just slightly better than stone age technology, this method offered little in the way of control. Entire meals were at the mercy of the elements. Outdoor cooking enthusiast George Stephens Sr. got an idea and quickly changed all that.

Which of you ladies is ready for a brontosaurus burger?

In 1951 the Weber Metal Works was manufacturing steel buoys for use in Lake Michigan. The buoys were essentially made of two half-spheres that were welded together. It was from one of these unwelded buoys that George fashioned what would become the prototype for George’s Barbecue Kettle, eventually becoming known as the Weber Kettle Grill. Word spread quickly among friends and neighbors, and before long the demand for this little backyard accessory was so high that George could not keep pace, so the Weber Metal Works created its own division devoted solely to manufacturing this new product. By the late 1950s, George bought out the Weber Metal Works and focused all manufacturing on the barbecue division. By the 1960s, the popularity of this grill became nationwide, and by the 1970s, the term “Weber Grill” became synonymous with any kettle-style grill.

I have the classic black kettle-style charcoal barbecue. I acquired it through a misunderstanding during a moving sale, but that’s another story. Despite the abuse that I have put it through, this modest cooker has served me very well in rain or shine. There have been times when I have had a bit of trouble getting the coals lit, but I can attribute that to lack of proper training. I am, however, intrigued by the Rapidfire Chimney Starter. My natural curiosity and tenuous grasp of thermodynamics tells me that this little device may be the answer to my problems.

Do I have any secret recipes or sauces? No. None that I would share on the internet. But any grillmasters worth their salt (hint, hint) should know about brining before they set match to charcoal.

Research indicates that Weber charcoal grills are still made and manufactured in the United States, as well as their Genesis and Summit Series gas grills. The lower end gas grills are now manufactured overseas. Their website says “Weber charcoal and Weber Q grills are manufactured in Huntley, IL, and our Genesis and Summit Series gas grills are made in Palatine, IL, using the highest quality components from around the globe.”

Their website has a lot of great pictures of the Weber grill throughout the ages, as well as an alarming number of contemporary photos of summer chefs whose enthusiasm is matched only by their waistlines. I’m no herbivore, but I don’t believe that I saw a single vegetable on their website. Strange. I always try to make room for my vegetarian brothers and sisters on my grill. And so I call unto you vegetarians; shuck some corn, skewer some mushrooms, and demand to be counted.

Weber Grills

By the way, the folks at Lifehacker have a great article on using your kettle grill as a smoker.  Check it out.