The Weber grill has been a symbol of backyard cooking in countries all over the world for a long time. It all started with George Stephen back in 1952, a worker at the Weber Metal works welding buoys for coastguards. Frustrated by his lack of control over the heat in his backyard grill, George took it upon himself to come up with his own design that would be far superior to the grills of his time. Stephen had the idea to use the bottom of a buoy as a base for the cooking grill and the top half as a lid.
However, this early prototype did not work quite as well as he had planned. Try as he might, he just couldn’t keep a fire going for longer than a few minutes. After long periods of thought George came up with the idea, based on advice from a friendly neighbour, to drill some holes into the top half to allow oxygen to enter. The flames inside his grill now burnt brightly and this set up allowed him to successfully control the temperature of the fire inside the grill. Today’s modern Weber kettle is not far from the original re-design in 1956 and it is definitely one of the most popular barbecue grills in the world with the basic model selling for under $100.
Courtesy of Weber.com – Weber Story – 1950
Stephen took to the road, displaying his new invention from city to city and slowly built up his reputation before going into business. Although his product cost a whole lot more than the open grill sold by his competitors, the unique design of the Weber kettle made it very popular. George employed twelve men who produced around 15,000 units that year. Sales grew slowly but by targeting the higher end of the market which was neglected by his competitors, Weber was able to establish an iron grip on the market very quickly making over twenty million dollars in the 70s.
Following his tremendous success, Stephen acquired Weber Brothers Metal Works in 1959 and changed its name to Weber-Stephen Products Co. In 1989, the company now headed by Stephen, opened its first Weber Grill restaurant where a traditional Weber kettle was used to prepare all the food. Patrons could see their meals being cooked behind through a glass window. Today, the Weber Grill restaurants are found all over the United States and offer a large variety of food including several very popular vegetarian options. The Weber kettle has become a household name in several countries and is an integral part of any backyard barbecue party.