Weber Grill – An Original American Grill

by Top Geek  

Last Updated: May 2, 2023

As far back as the early 1950s, grilling has played a big part in the American Dream. This pastime often brings back memories of any backyard barbecue or family gathering. Yet for many of us who aren’t old enough to remember, there was a time when the biggest BBQ brand named Weber didn’t exist. And for most of us who grew up with Weber grills, the charm of making barbecue is as unique as it gets.

So, why did Weber become such a major influence in our lives and how much different are their grills now than they were when they first appeared in 1952?

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to get you familiarized with one of the few products that still celebrates American living. You’ll find out a few things about Weber’s humble beginnings, an enthusiastic spotlight of grilling, and barbecue culture.

The Weber Grill Company

Weber Brothers Metal Works History

To be fair, barbecue grills have been around for a long time and were sold to the public for more than just convenient grilling. As early as the 1920s, even Henry Ford teamed up with EB Kingsford and Thomas Edison to market a portable grill that would help promote Ford’s vehicles to take their grill on picnics. But for one small company called Weber Brothers Metal Works that began in 1887 in Chicago, an idea began to grow in the early 1950s.

Metal Bros. 1954 22″ Kettle Grill

It seems that one of the company’s employees: George Stephen Sr. who just so happened to work in the sales department for this company, was responsible for selling many of their metal products. These products ranged from metal hinges to wagon parts, and even naval buoys. George was also a family man and loved having a good barbecue at home for his growing family. But back then, the only grill that was decent was an open-top charcoal brazier.

Old Weber Buoy Kettle Grill
Weber Buoy Kettle Grill

Among other things, it was tricky to work with and cooked food unevenly. It would also kick up ash and smoke and didn’t work outside in the rain. Being a natural tinkerer, his frustrations led to the initial development of the Weber Kettle Grill. As the story goes, George took two halves of marine buoys and put three metal prongs for their legs to stand them up. Inside was a wire grate for the food to sit on above the charcoal.

There was a handle for the top lid but there was a bigger problem once George fired up the charcoal. Perplexed that the charcoal was not burning anymore, George’s neighbor suggested that the lid needs some air to get in. So that’s exactly what they did and punched some holes in the lid using the pointy end of a pick- and amazingly, the charcoal continued to burn from the newly introduced airflow.

After a bit of tweaking and smaller adjustments, George found that his new kettle grill cooked meats and food more efficiently. The round buoy design helped circulate the heat so that the top and bottom of grilled meat would cook through and through. He later added air vent covers to adjust for more or less airflow on the top and bottom of the buoys likewise. After neighbors commented that it looked like Sputnik, a patriotic George changed this small detail too.

George was so impressed with the new innovation that he took it back to the Weber Brothers Metal Works and proposed a new product that the company could sell. It was a decision that ultimately would cement him as the best candidate to run the company only 8 years later. But luckily for George, 1952 was an era that saw the largest expansion of BBQ grilling shot him right to the top of fame.

Ultimately, this is how the Weber Brothers Metal Works company changed into Weber-Stephen and the branding for Weber completely shifted to capitalize on selling kettle grills to young G.I.s that were still returning from Europe after WW2. The rest is history as they say, but that’s not the entire story.

Weber grills further evolved as barbecue culture has changed, which is why Weber is still a market leader.

What Makes Weber Grills Unique

Weber Connect Technology

Times may have changed along with public opinions that helped shape a barbecue culture that we all love so much. When it comes to the name Weber, it doesn’t take more than a second to realize that barbecue is synonymous with the Weber name for all the right reasons. And even with copycat products that mirrored the shape of the original dome grill, everyone knows that Weber is a brand that stands behind the art of barbecue.

They haven’t forgotten their past, nor are they resisting a very obvious technology-based future. Weber keeps up with the times by introducing energy-efficient grills for a generation that is making grilling fun again. They have further introduced Weber Connect Technology using WiFi, Bluetooth, and interactive AI program software for a new generation of aspiring backyard BBQ cooks to simplify the barbecue process.

Webers grill manufacturing factory

Even with Weber grills having such a prominent face within the BBQ industry- it’s not a sure thing to stay on top so easily. Constant attention to the latest barbecue fads and trends now become more than just happy-go-lucky mistakes in today’s highly competitive world. And though the public’s attitude toward Weber has changed by demographics they are one of the most widely-known brands because of its clever marketing.

Weber grills come in a variety of shapes and setups with a commitment to quality among all the other competitive brands out there. Luckily, they still make it just as easy to become a great barbecue cook with little to no experience. But the most important aspect of all is Weber’s commitment to customer satisfaction which keeps new customers coming back for something different or improved. Here’s what they’re doing so far:

Best Weber Grills

What used to be metal products that were marketed for a bygone age of industry are what Weber used to call top sellers. Now it’s obvious that Weber-Stephen has branded and cornered the BBQ grill market. They feature grills that are gas-powered or charcoal fueled. They even include high-tech grills with all of the bells and whistles a home griller can imagine. Essentially, the Weber product line is helpful for beginners all the way up to professional pitmasters.

As it turns out, they have improved and updated many of their classic grills to work more efficiently for those who like retro grilling just as much. If that wasn’t enough, the convenience of smart grills that use Weber Connect Technology is reaching a whole new generation that shares an interest in outdoor barbecues likewise. Here is the latest product line that makes Weber stand out among the crowd.

Kettle Grill

Weber Kettle Grill

The one and only original kettle grill that started it all -is what makes Weber such an iconic brand. These days you’ll find that its beautiful porcelain enamel gives each kettle a brilliant sheen which allows it to stand up in any weather rain or shine. The rounded dome shape also allows heat to circulate better to ensure that food is cooked uniformly every time. With air vents placed on the top and bottom of this kettle, you get great airflow for whatever you cook.

They have also improved the design by adding a hinged grate and a built-in thermometer on the dome. On many new models, they also have an upgraded ash-catcher system to make cleanup simplified.

Spirit Gas Grill

Weber Spirit Gas Grill

For those who like using gas for cooking convenience, the Spirit Gas Grill series is one of Weber’s signature models that bring multi-purpose cooking to the BBQ table. Among the great features includes quick startup ignition with bold temperature dials that allow you to set up and control your preferred cooking zones on the grate. Another ideal extra is a separate grill bar that gives you a reserved place just for smoking meats or veggies without being exposed to too much heat and your meals cook.

Because it works on natural gas, it’s cleaner and easier to use than charcoal or wood burners, but still allows you the comfort to add a smoker tube to get a real smoky flavor as you like. This series is the perfect companion for camping or backyard grilling where family meals are fun to cook. See how the Weber grill stacked up against other grills in our review here.

Smoky Mountain

Weber Smoky Mountain grill

There are going to be times when you might like to double-up your choice of grilling and smoking. This quirky capsule-shaped Weber grill accommodates two separate grills atop each other to maximize the smokiness that you’re looking to achieve. It’s great for those who like to cook ‘low and slow’ and even has a built-in water pan so your meats never dry out by accident. It has all the perks like built-in thermometers and airflow dampers just like the original kettle grill.

When you’re serious about getting smoky flavor and have a big family to feed, the Smoky Mountain grill is a great choice and companion for any standard Weber grill.

Weber Genesis

Weber Genesis grill

Just like the Weber Spirit Grills, this newer grill series is bigger and better and includes smart technology called Weber Connect. It allows both beginners and seasoned BBQ enthusiasts to keep track of their meals using a smartphone app. There are portable thermometers that additionally give you up-to-date internal readings on select cuts of meat as well. The infinity ignition system is handier with built-in lighting to illuminate the temperature controls too.

This twin gas burner grill is ideal for having separate grilling stations and features interchangeable grills for cooking favorites like steak and eggs and even hash browns. The bonus is a Flavorizer bar that unfolds to carry even more barbecued treats to be smoked if you add a smoke tube. The best part is this grill is easier to clean with a handy grease pan right under the grill.

Weber Q

Weber Q grill

If you’re short on space but still want an authentic grilling experience, the Weber Q series is just for you. These grills are both sold as plug-in electrical and gas-powered versions and have different stand configurations that are often sold separately. It’s small enough to bring to any backyard party, beach grilling, or vacation camping with a grill large enough to feed entire families and has over 189 square inches of cooking space.

It’s convenient to clean and comes with a special coating to withstand years of grilling no matter where you keep it. Out of all the Weber grills, this one is a favorite because it’s the most portable of them all.

Final Thoughts…

Weber might have come full circle for a variety of grilling options, and continue to innovate with great BBQ grills as a result of their commitment to quality. And though they initially started as a metal works factory, had it not been for the frustration of one guy who wasn’t happy with his open-top brazier, the Weber kettle grill may never have been invented. Since then, grilling has never been so much fun.

And for the heyday that backyard barbecues originated with families in the 1950s to Tiki Parties of the 60s and 70s, barbecue culture has expanded across the globe. Weber has embraced the cultural revolution which brings friends and families together while providing convenience and technology for a whole new generation to enjoy. It seems that Weber is one brand that has a serious passion for barbecue with a great variety of grills for everyone’s taste.

FAQs

What is a Weber Grill?
One of the most common Weber grills people think of is the classic Weber kettle grill that’s shaped like a rounded pot with legs. It’s nearly 130 years old and is still one of their top-selling models all over the world. Weber grills are typically charcoal and wood-fueled however gas grills are just as popular. Weber further sells electric and smart technology grills likewise.
What is the GS4 Grilling System?
This is a selling point for Weber grills that includes 4 key elements that include the Infinity ignition system, stainless steel burners, built-in Flavorizer bars, and a grease management system. All four of these extras are sold with select grills that are marketed for the GS4 upgrade models only.
Do Weber Grills come with a warranty?
Yes they do. Weber grills come with a standard 5-year warranty on most of their models. On select models like the Genesis gas grills, there is a 12-year warranty. Parts and burners further have separate warranties that are covered for up to 5 years additionally.
Are there any accessories available for Weber Grills?
Yes there are. All Weber grills have additional accessories that are sold separately to enhance the barbecue experience. Select models feature extras that are sold as a complete package that you can add to Weber’s order.
How long can I expect my Weber Grill to last?
A Weber grill can last for decades if proper care is observed and practiced. Most people who purchase high-end Weber grills will take extra steps to keep their grill in a place where outdoor weather won’t damage it. If certain parts of a Weber stop working before the warranty expires, they can easily be replaced. Spare parts are also sold by Weber for anything that isn’t covered by the warranty.
What’s so great about a Weber grill?
Weber grills are great for taking anywhere since they are designed to be practical enough to bring on camping trips, to the beach, or even to tailgate parties. Aside from the name being iconic, if you own a Weber, people know you’re avid about barbecuing because it’s designed to be used all the time. There are even special groups who actively collect vintage Weber kettle grills for their old-school authenticity.
What about rust, do they rust easily or not?
There is no certain answer whether the owner of a Weber grill is being responsible or not. The materials that are used for Weber grills are prepared and sealed with special coatings to resist rust and corrosion but they are limited to time and the elements. If Weber grills are exposed to outdoor weather without protection, they will be prone to rusting. Other parts will need replacing if they wear out from being used very often.

About the author Top Geek

I have always been a believer: “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I’ve been lucky enough to use my professional experience in the meat industry over the past 20 years to create a business where I love to go to work.

Smoking Meat Geeks is all about bringing people together that enjoy food as much as I do. We provide a place for everyone to share thoughts, ideas, and recipes; to be a go-to spot for cooking inspiration. Feel free to leave a comment, say hello, or provide any tips. There is no right or wrong input, as long as you’re engaging, you’re a Meat Geek!

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