Barbecues – or cookouts, depending on which part of the country you live in – are an American pastime with roots dating back to the first U.S. colonies. In fact, the colony of Virginia forbade the discharge of guns during barbecues in the 1650s. One of the first laws in U.S. history involves a barbecue. Since July is National Grilling Month, why not learn a little more about the history of grilling and barbecues?
As you move through American history, you’ll learn many former presidents were big fans of barbecues. George Washington might have been the biggest fan – he built a large smokehouse on his Virginia plantation — and there is an entry in one of his diaries that discuss a three-day barbecue. It doesn’t stop there either. Abraham Lincoln’s parents hosted a barbecue following their wedding and Lyndon Johnson hosted the first barbecue on the White House lawn in the 1960s.
Important, well-known figures in history were fans of grilling. For example, did you know that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were a major part of the first commercial charcoal briquette factory? Or, have you heard the phrase, “tastes like chicken”? It originated at a barbecue where Christopher Columbus and his men killed and barbecued a “serpent” that was 6 feet long, which Columbus later described as tasting like chicken in his journal.
Finally, the next time you pull out your portable grill, don’t forget to thank the military. In 1942, the Army decided it needed a lightweight, portable cooking device for soldiers so they enlisted the help of the Coleman Company to design the device. The result was the Pocket Stove that was approximately five pounds – and grills never looked the same after the Pocket Stove.
So the next time you host a barbecue or just grill out with your family, remember it’s an American tradition that has lived on through the centuries. I think it’s about time to fire up the Blaze grill!