Dress up or strip down your BBQ?

Six-out-of-ten Americans say they can’t wait to fire up the grill and kick off the peak outdoor cooking season igniting this May (National Barbecue Month), according to a new poll conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), Arlington, Va. In fact, nearly 90 percent say they plan to enjoy grilled food in their own backyard during the warmer months, indicating that Americans are ready to shake off the winter blues and get a taste of summer.


HPBA’s 2010 National Barbecue Month poll reveals that flavor preferences and grilling styles vary as widely as the people who use them. The nationwide poll shows America’s grilling profile and consumer taste preferences include: When it comes to enjoying a meal from the grill, 65 percent of Americans like to “dress it up” with a sauce, marinade or seasoning, and 21 percent prefer to “strip it down” and enjoy grilled food au natural; Some like it hot! Men more than women say they like to turn up the heat with spicy sauce or steak sauce on their grilled meats (42 percent vs. 31 percent); and When it comes to grill-side manner, most adults report that they are “all about the meat” (29 percent) or “all natural” (24 percent), followed by “spicy or saucy” (19 percent), adventurous (16 percent) and timid (6 percent).


Favorite toppings include: ketchup (66 percent), mustard (62 percent), two thirds say, “add cheese, please!” Overall, 74 percent of Americans add lettuce, onion and/or tomato. Women lean towards the veggies more than men (80 percent vs. 68 percent), and 70 percent of adults say they are all about the buns, and prefer a traditional bun to complete their grilled sandwiches. No matter the preference for mustard or ketchup, bun or none, Americans agree that grilling provides an easy, cost-effective way to get out of the house and enjoy better tasting food during the warmer months. Specifically, Americans say the top pay-offs of grilling versus eating out or oven cooked meals include: More flavorful food (81 percent); inexpensive compared to eating out (76 percent); easier clean up (67 percent); healthier (64 percent); and less cooking time (53 percent).


The new poll found that most adults plan to enjoy barbecuing outside of the home this summer: 74 percent plan to enjoy grilled food at a friend of relative’s house, 42 percent while picnicking, 39 percent while camping, and 20 percent while tailgating.


“After an especially brutal winter nationwide, people are ready to cook outside and enjoy the outdoors,” says Leslie Wheeler, HPBA’s director of communications. “While we are seeing an increase in grilling year round, it still remains the quintessential summer pastime. The warmer months bring people together around the grill for outdoor entertainment and delicious food with the benefits of ease and affordability.”