Essential Pittsburgh
4:26 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

The Business of the Barbecue (And Grilling)

Credit Gepat / Flickr

This Friday is July 4th, and to commemorate the nation’s 238th birthday people across the country will march in parades, watch fireworks and, of course, fire up the grill.

Tons of hot dogs, burgers, steaks, and propane will be sold in the lead up to Independence Day, the biggest grilling day of the year. So it seemed to be an appropriate time to discuss the business of grilling with contributor Rebecca Harris.

Harris says that even though humans have been cooking meat for hundreds of thousands of years, backyard grilling didn’t truly become popular until the 1950’s. The sudden increase in popularity was spurred by the creation of suburbs, and the creation of the backyard grill.

“George Stephen, he was a metalworker by trade, and he was a big tinkerer. He was frustrated with the flat, open style grill that was common at the time. He had inherited a controlling interest in Weber Brothers Manufacturing and Metal Spinning Company, and what they made was harbor buoys … he decided the buoys needed some modification, so he cut across the middle of it, added a grate, opened the top as a lid, cut vents, and the Weber grill was born.”

Harris also discussed the differences between grilling and a barbecue, as well as the differences between the BBQ sauces found around the country, from Texas to Kansas City and named her top barbecue spots in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Barbecue Company, which is open on July 4th, has been in existence for over 10 seasons, and they have just remarkable barbecue. There’s Yinzburgh Barbecue, which is a southern style of barbecue, which I hear is quite amazing as well, and they serve lots of different varieties. Lots of our local restaurants do takeout so I think you can find it wherever you like.”