Q: WHERE DID THE CLASSIC AMERICAN KETTLE GRILL COME FROM?
A: Back in the early 1950s, George Stephen, a welder from Chicago, was frustrated with his flat, open grill, according to Weber’s Big Book of Grilling. If it rained or the wind blew a bit too much, his ashes would blow out. Stephen welded metal spheres into buoys for the Coast Guard for Weber Brothers Metal Works, so he had the brilliant idea to use one of those rounded bowls for cooking. He slapped three legs and a handle on it, and the classic Weber kettle grill was born.
The neighbors called it Sputnik, according to the book, and people started clamoring for the wonderful foods that it churned out. The legend is that Stephen couldn’t get the original model to stay lit. A neighbor offered some unsolicited advice: Put some holes in the top so that the fire gets some oxygen. And with that, and some smart salesmanship, a national passion for grilling was born.