You may not be aware that every year a trade show is held usually in the month of March that is dedicated to all things related to fireplace, stove, heater, barbecue, and outdoor living appliances and accessories. In addition to the trade show, this organization, known as HPBA or Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, conducts various surveys every couple of years. A recent survey was posted asking the question “Why do people grill?”
The top answer to this survey surprised and THRILLED me!
Most Recent Statistics
For North America, owning a grill is common. Currently, in the United States, 7 of 10 adults own a grill while in Canada that number increases to 8 of 10. Gas grills remain the most popular (64%) with charcoal units coming in second (44%). When looking at the most popular times of the year to use the grill, holidays, of course, dominate. Memorial Day and 4th of July are the clear winners for firing up the grill but Father’s Day remains a high demand grilling day as well likely due to this holiday falling right before true summer begins on the North American calendar. Of course, Labor Day is not far behind on the list.
This survey will be conducted again in 2019 with updated numbers likely available by the close of the year. I can’t wait to view them to see current trends.
Now to the question of “Why do people grill?”
It’s All About Flavor
The number one reason people stated for grilling is for flavor! This got me thinking about this answer.
What exactly made the flavor difference? Is it that the heat of the grill produced changes in the ingredients used? Was it the charring affect from direct fire of the grill which leads to a distinct taste? Or was it the flavor choices used when grilling with wood like wood chips, wood chunks, and charcoal?
I think without adding these follow up questions, it’s very hard to know just what the flavor enhancer is when grilling for these respondents.
For me, there is no question that it is the introduction of smoke to my outdoor cooking experience. Whether I’m cooking on a gas grill that I’ve included a smoker box of wood chunks, a charcoal grill equipped with hardwood charcoal or charwood plus wood chunks, an electric grill I’ve incorporate a micro wood chip product, or my outdoor fireplace that I’ve converted to an open pit fire using hardwood, I let the tantalizing smoke vapor work with the other ingredients of my foods to bring out the best of all the blended flavors.
Direct fire or indirect cooking, either way the eating experience of foods cooked grilled, smoked, or by embers is unique and is likely the reason why people from around the world continue to seek out these methods of cooking.
So I agree with the 72% of North Americans who say they grill for flavor but I’d certainly add that I grill for flavor that is heightened by the addition of the natural plant material known as hardwood which takes my grilling to an umami level that’s hard to beat by any other cooking method.
What is your reason for grilling? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on all platforms. Providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the flame and fire to improve your skills with wood-fired cooking! That’s SmokinLicious®!