A Look at the History of Grilling: Our Trip to Weber

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Weber Grill

Back in April, Dan and I had the pleasure of visiting the Weber company headquarters in Palatine, Illinois — practically in our own backyard! And honestly, it kind of felt that way. We met with multiple people from Weber’s marketing department and Weber Grill Masters who welcomed us, shared Weber’s history of grilling, showed us the evolution and variety of their products, and even cooked us the perfect steak.

So, I want to take a break from tool reviews for a moment to share with you some grilling history, products, and cooking tips from this proud US company.

A Brief History of Weber 

Weber Grill
The first grill designed and built by George Stephen Sr.

Before there was Weber, there was a man named George Stephen Sr. He embraced the cultural shift that happened in America after the end of World War II. People moved to the suburbs, dining and entertaining became less formal, and people across the country were firing up their grills as their go-to method for preparing a meal, or socializing with their neighbors.

However, George Stephen Sr. did not embrace the standard metal brazier grills that often burnt your food, or went out with a few drops of rain or a light breeze. This inspired the domed, lidded charcoal barbeque he designed and built in 1952. That first barbeque was originally fashioned from a split metal buoy with some legs added on. This design provided protection from the elements and offered better flame and heat control. George acknowledged it looked weird, but it worked well, all of his neighbors wanted one, and then more people wanted one…

By the end of the 1950’s he sold enough to buy out Weber Brothers Metalworks, where he worked and built his first grill. He kept the Weber name and the rest is history!

That was the short version. If you’re interested, Weber has a more detailed story of the Weber company’s history.

Weber’s Impact on the History of Grilling

Even George Stephen Sr. thought his original domed contraption he was calling a grill looked weird. However, that domed design went on to become synonymous with Weber and American grilling from there on and out. Weber continues to be a top grill brand today, often ranking #1.

George Stephen Sr. passed away in 1993. He was posthumously inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2013 for his lasting impact on the history of grilling.

New Products from Weber

Weber products have evolved a lot since 1952. Weber grills now come in a variety of sizes. There are charcoal and propane options, smokers, a variety of accessories, and more. We thought we’d share some of these items with you.

Weber Charcoal Grills

Weber Gas Grills

Weber Grill

Weber added gas grills to their collection in the 1970’s. The first model looked just like the original domed, charcoal grill, except it sat on top of a propane tank. Eventually, the grills became more square, and now you have the luxury grills of today.

Grills like the six-burner Weber Summit E-670 (available in gas or liquid propane) retail from Weber for $3,549. You can sear, sauté, smoke, and even cook a whole rotisserie chicken in the Tuck-Away Rotisserie System. I’m imagining what the original 1952 Weber grillers would think of a grill like this! The smaller Weber Summit E-470 is available on Amazon for $2,599.

Many of Weber’s electric grill options are also portable grills. These grills are great for taking to tailgates, camping, or storing in your RV. You can buy the Weber Traveler Portable Gas Grill (pictured above) on Amazon starting at $379.

Read more about the evolution of gas grills from Weber.

Weber Electric Grills

Weber Grill

Weber also has multiple electric grills. Pictured above is the Weber Pulse Electric Grill and you can buy it and all of its accessories on Amazon.

Weber Griddles

In case you prefer smash burgers, breakfast outside, or staging your hibachi night, Weber also offers a variety of Standup Griddles. The Standup Griddle above comes in a four burner 36 in. griddle, or a three burner 28 in. griddle.

Weber Grill
Weber griddle inserts for gas grills

Weber also makes griddle inserts that fit many of their different grill models, including both gas and charcoal models. The Home Depot offers a variety of Weber Standup Griddles and griddle inserts.

Weber SmokersWeber Grill

Weber also has a diverse collection of smokers. The variety offers a smoker option to any skill level, those who just want to smoke food for themselves and small crowds, or cater to large groups.

Weber Meat Thermometers & Accessories

Weber offers more products than just grills. Weber Connect is a great meat thermometer that connects to your phone and tells you the internal temp of whatever you’re grilling in real-time.

Weber Connect and more Weber accessories are available on Amazon.

Cooking & Grilling Tips from Weber Grill AcademyWeber Grill

Now on to the most exciting part of our trip. Dan and I got to experience Weber’s Grill Academy. This is where Weber tests their grills and Grill Masters cook.

Weber Grill

The Grill Academy has multiple kitchen areas. Each kitchen area has multiple counters and work surfaces, commercial refrigerators, and a variety of Weber grills and smokers.

The grills are a mix of charcoal, gas, and electric. Each area has a smoker.

Weber Grill

We were lucky enough to meet and learn from Grill Master Dustin Green. I know we think we know everything about grilling and cooking, but Dustin taught us a ton more.

Dustin Green cooked us steak, salmon, green beans, and made a stir-fry. It was amazing food. Some of the grilling wisdom he shared with us emphasized simplicity. He stated that grilling doesn’t always require a ton of seasoning or an exploding armful of ingredients. Most of the time, salt and pepper are all you need.

The food was awesome! I don’t know how you like your steak, but ours was perfect in my opinion. Dustin Green’s simple approach didn’t mask any flavor, just enhanced it. The Weber obviously gave it the perfect char and grill marks, and everything was great!

Final Thoughts on Our Trip to Weber

This really was a great experience. Also, as grillers ourselves, it’s really cool to live so close to this iconic company. George Stephen Sr. made grilling what it is today. If you grill, you know it’s not just about the food. Grilling is a great way to spend time with family, socialize with friends, and is a highlight of summer for me.

We are grateful to everyone at Weber and thank them for giving us this experience.

 

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