Men toss it on the barby

BBQ grilling is no longer just a summertime activity as an increasing number of Americans fire up their grills year round, according to Port Washington, N.Y.-based The NPD Group. In fact, NPD’s 22nd annual “Eating Patterns in America” report shows that outdoor grill usage in America is at an all-time high; nearly double what it was 20 years ago. In 1985, 17 percent of households used a grill at dinner at least once during an average two-week period throughout the year; in 2007, it was 38 percent. “While summer still accounts for the highest consumption levels of grilled food, grilling has increased the most in the other seasons of the year,” says Harry Balzer, vice president. Increased usage coincides with the increased ownership of gas grills. The majority of households have an outdoor grill (76 percent) and the grill of choice is gas (75 percent). In 2007, NPD estimates grill sales grew by 3.2 percent (unit sales) from the previous year (2006).    Balzer also attributes the steady rise in grilling with the increasing number of men cooking at home. “This is the one cooking appliance men are more likely to use than any other appliance in the home,” he says. According to NPD’s latest data, 41 percent of men say they always do the grilling, while only 17 percent of women say they always do the grilling. What foods are men (and women) tossing on the grill? Burgers (any, with or without bun); steak; chicken; hot dogs; pork chops; potatoes; vegetables; other pork cuts; sausage and seafood.   “There is no doubt we are a nation of grillers,” says Balzer. “It’s convenient, saves time, tastes good, and, perhaps most important to women, the man does it.” This Memorial Day weekend, as we reflect on and honor those who are no longer with us, let us savor the time with those who are.