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Man Meets Grill.

“It takes just one summer season to turn a caveman into an outdoor chef in full 1955 regalia. A man takes over with a few more tools than a primitive hunter: a fire, a stick or an old fork, some meat. After one bite of a frankfurter … he is hooked as a cook.””

– Look magazine, July 12, 1955

The first outdoor gas grill. Photo Courtesy of MHP Outdoor Grills

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. has a great exhibit that opened last November called Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000. On the menu of topics are changes in food production and processing, who cooks and why, where and when meals are consumed and what people know (or think they know) about what is good for them. Of course, the most interesting exhibit to an AmeriGas employee would have to be the Backyard Cookout, exploring the origins of grilling with the suburban movement and traveled palates!

After World War II, Americans found themselves with the means and desire to travel. People developed a taste for casual living and the distinctive local foods and drink, so they re-created these experiences in their new suburban backyards with patios, tropical drinks, and the grill. The outdoor patio grill created a new kind of space for American families. It associated food with recreation and relaxation.

By the late 1950s, American manufacturers and retailers were promoting new tools, clothes, furniture and serving ware to go along with grilled meats on the patio. In particular, the basic tools of barbecuers began as a carving knife, spatula, fork and grill scraper. As the market expanded, grill masters could enhance their tool kit with tongs, skewers, basting brushes, grill lighters, carrying cases and other gadgets. In the 1960s, Gas grills were developed with side tables and using gas as fuel – a less messy, and quick, wheeled means to cook and entertain.

In the United States, family dynamics and parenting attitudes were changing, encouraging fathers to spend more time at home with their family – in their new suburban backyards. The new outdoor grilling space defined a special role for men in meal preparation: while they “manned” the grill to cook the meat for the main course, the women worked primarily in the kitchen to make the side dishes.

American Gas Association advertisement from March, 1970. Photo Courtesy of LIFE Magazine.


Don’t be a caveman. Isn’t it about time to get out your tongs and fire up the grill? Pick up some AmeriGas® Propane at any of our convenient 45,000 + AmeriGas® Propane Exchange locations nationwide. After all, you can’t call it “GRILLING” without AmeriGas®.


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