When George Stephen, founder of Weber-Stephen Products Co., designed his kettle-shaped barbeque grill in 1951, he sparked a backyard revolution. Tired of complaining about flat, open grills that exposed his food to wind, ashes and charring fire-ups, he decided to put a lid on it — literally.
It all started at the metalworks, where he worked, his idea began to take shape as he chopped a metal buoy in half, added air vents and legs and the original kettle barbecue was born. He realised it looked more than a bit weird, but he proudly took it home to try it out.
His neighbours only stopped laughing at the spaceship, as they called it, when they tasted the steak that George cooked for them on it. He knew that cooking on a rounded bowl with the lid down was the key and he was quickly proved right. Now everybody wanted one. George decided to set up on his own and by the end of the 1950s he was able to buy out Weber Brothers Metalworks.
He then changed its name to Weber-Stephen Products. George’s lidded barbecues were proving to be such a hit throughout the 1960s and 1970s that American TV picked up on his story.
George and his small team toured the country doing cookery demonstrations wherever anyone would let them and TV programmes made it easier to show just how easy Weber® barbecues were to use. People loved the simplicity and delicious results possible.
By now entertaining at home was thankfully becoming less formal and the first Weber® gas and electric barbecues were welcomed with open arms. Weber® created some pretty funky designs during the era and each one was built around the much-loved dome shape with rounded bowl. George Stephen Snr. had always been a man with a big idea, but with one particular business idea, even he thought he may have bitten off more than he could chew.
George’s “folly” was in such hot demand that he could not make them fast enough. The popular kettle shape quickly became an American icon for food and fun.
In 1985, Weber began producing the highly rated Genesis Gas Grill. Suddenly consumers could enjoy the convenience of gas grilling without sacrificing quality or flavour.
His vision and dogged determination literally changed the landscape of outdoor entertaining, and Weber® will continue to honour his legacy by developing and producing the best grills and accessories available for years to come.
We think George Stephen Snr. would be proud beyond words that his invention led to Weber® barbecues being the number 1 barbecue brand today – loved by millions the world over.