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So, you may be thinking about becoming a barbecue judge ... or perhaps you just want to know what it is that the judges are looking for (and tasting) when judging great barbecue. Who are the table captains? And what do they do? Who officiates the contests? Overcooked? Under cooked? Too Salty? Too flat tasting? Mushy? Tough? and many more.

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Survey Results & Barbecue Trends
Barbecue'n Statistics
The Barbecue Industry Association conducts an independent bi-annual consumer study to evaluate consumer attitudes and behavior regarding outdoor cooking. The 1997 survey indicates that Americans are buying grills with more bells and whistles, barbecuingmore than ever, exploring woods, eagerly trying smoke cooking and firing up their grills regardless of the season or the weather. Americans are cooking over the coals a whooping 2.9 billion times a year! Here are some numbers to chew on:Barbecue'n Events  


Gas grill popularity is growing and consumers tend to invest more money into higher quality grills. Many people own multiple grills, thus charcoal grills have not gone by the wayside as sales of gas climb. Electric grills, while a minor factor in the outdoor grill market, appeal especially to "retired" households and condominium dwellers.

Gas Grill OwnershipFact:   Three out of four U.S. households own a barbecue grill

Fact:   Families are far more apt to own a barbecue grill (84%) than non-family households – primarily single persons living alone (54%)

Fact:   A majority (57%) of grill owners own an LP gas grill while more than half (54%) also own a charcoal grill. About 8% own a natural gas grill and 3% own an electric grill

Fact:   Ownership of LP gas grills is especially high per household in the Northeast as compared to other regions of the U.S.

Fact:   Outdoor electric grill ownership is somewhat above average when the head of household is retired, and among those who live in a condominium

Fact:   More than half of grill owners say they will buy an LP gas grill next

Fact:   Thirty-nine percent of grills were purchased during the past two years, with a quarter now three to four years old and more than a third (37%) purchased five or more years ago

Fact:   About 11% of barbecue grills are purchased as a gift

Fact:   Men are generally more likely than women (by about two to one) to be the household member who decides to buy the grill


As families grow, so does the amount of outdoor cooking they engage in. No longer content to confine barbecuing to spring and summer, more than half of Americans cook out year around.

Fact:   When it comes to demonstrating their barbecue prowess, men still dominate the actual cooking.

Fact:   Bigger families (3 or 4 members) barbecue more often

Fact:   Grilling year ‘round is more common among gas grill owners (64%), but charcoal chefs (41%) also brave the elements, especially those with convenient cart-type covered grills

Fact:   Wood smokers and electric grills often are used throughout the year, too

Fact:   Just over half of grill owners are heavy/medium users (4+ times per month) but they do the vast majority of the barbecuing – more than 85%

Fact:   Men are much more apt (61%) than women (39%) to do the barbecuing, with the percentage increasing since 1995

Fact:   The Northeast leads the heavy barbecuer category, followed by North Central, South and West


Gas Grill Units

Charcoal Grills

Fact:   Charcoal grill owners still rely heavily on briquets, but many have tried lump/natural charcoal; increasing numbers sometimes use convenient instant light briquets. Lighter fluid remains the favorite method for starting charcoal fires. Among gas grillers, one in five now replenishes their propane via cylinder exchange, simply trading in an empty cylinder for a new/full one.

Fact:   Charcoal briquets are used by nearly all (95%) charcoal grill owners, with more than half using them exclusively; instant light briquets have been used by about a quarter of charcoal grill owners during the past 12 months

Fact:   Half of charcoal grill owners have used lump/natural charcoal; very few use it exclusively

Fact:   Nearly 60% of LP gas users have refilled or replaced their gas cylinders one or two times in the past year, but a third have done it three or more times.


Fact:   Interest in smoke cooking is soaring and more people are adding a smoker grill to their outdoor cooking equipment. Popular for barbecuing in any weather, they help extend the season.

Fact:   Nearly one out of 10 barbecue grill owners has a water smoker in addition to their other grills; one out of 20 owns a horizontal wood smoker as a supplementary grill

Fact:   Gas, electric and charcoal water smokers are available; charcoal is most popular, followed by electric

Fact:   More than two thirds of both horizontal dry smokers and water smokers are very likely to be used year around


As people master barbecuing, they want grill features that turn their backyards into complete outdoor kitchens and make cooking a wide variety of foods easier and safer.

Fact:   About one out of four gas grills now has an extra burner for cooking side dishes

Grill OptionsFact:   Features considered most important by gas grill buyers include a large cooking surface, shelves, side burners, grease catchers and a fuel gauge

Fact:   Buyers of charcoal grills want ash catchers, followed by smoking capability and shelves

Fact:   Tongs and long-handled forks are the utensils owned by most barbecuers, but cleaning brushes and long-handled spatulas are not far behind. Less than half own gloves/mitts, long-handled brushes, grill covers or skewers


Although people have greatly expanded their cookout repertoire, and every part of the meal is now cooked on the grill, the foods that top the "cooked frequently" list have not changed much.

Fact:   Outdoor chefs are becoming more familiar with woods, which are used to add smoke flavor, and while many woods are available, mesquite and hickory are the most frequent choices. Barbecue sauce is also a favorite way to enhance the flavor of foods cooked over the coals.

Hotdog!Fact:   The most popular foods for the grill are hamburgers, steak, hot dogs and chicken breasts. Chicken parts, pork chops, ribs and sausages are also favorites.

Fact:   Nine out of 10 barbecue grill owners always or sometimes use barbecue sauce when grilling and most buy sauce, sometimes adding their own ingredients

Fact:   Favorite barbecue sauces are hickory, tomato-based, honey and mesquite. Mustard-based, oil-based and sweet and hot sauces are named less frequently. Basting during cooking is the number one use of sauces

Fact:   About one in five barbecuers has used wood in the past year, with charcoal chefs using it most often. In addition to mesquite and hickory, oak and fruitwoods were woods of choice

Permission to use the above information was granted from the Barbecue Industry Association.

The Barbecue Store

Bulk Wood Chips
Here's a great money saving idea.  Wood chips and chunks never go bad. So why not order them in money saving bulk boxes?  Simply keep them in a dry area and use as needed!

Click & Order Your Bulk Chips & Chunks TODAY 

Bad Weather? Too hot or cold? Know what your bbq pit is doing with these Wireless Thermometers
Bad Weather?  Too hot or cold? Know what your bbq pit is doing with these Wireless Thermometers

There's not a better BBQ glove. Stylish Suade, lined and double protected from the elements.

There's not a better BBQ glove. Stylish Suade, lined and double protected from the elements.
FlameX Leather Gloves

Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

When cold, romance or just having to burn something, our designer firepits will do it all. Get free shipping on SoJoe FirePits today
When cold, romance or just having to burn something, our designer firepits will do it all.  Get free shipping on SoJoe FirePits today

Visit The Barbecue Store Today!Visit The Barbecue Store Today!
Visit The Barbecue Store Today!

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