Thrill for the grill

Reigniting their thrill for the grill, consumers are heading outside to enjoy mouthwatering grilled meals this May for National Barbecue Month (NBM) and all summer long. As revealed in the Arlington, Va.-based Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association's (HPBA) national consumer poll of 1,000 consumers, 76 percent prefer to cook outside on the grill than indoors on the stove, when entertaining during the warmer months. "Throughout the warmer months, and really all year long, consumers love to take their meals outside to prepare on the grill," says Leslie Wheeler, HPBA communications director. "From pizzas and quesadillas, to veggies, meats and even biscuits, the possibilities are endless for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even dessert. State-of-the-art and out-of-this world grills and accessories are more innovative and advanced than ever before to meet every outdoor chef's need." When it comes to grilling technique and style, consumers are serious about grilling up a good meal and doing it the right way. In fact, if given the chance, an overwhelming 63 percent of respondents say they would rather learn to grill from a true pro - a celebrity chef. In contrast, less than 10 percent of survey respondents were interested in learning from their favorite athlete, supermodel, famous actor or actress, presidential candidate, or rock star. Although serious about their technique, grillers aren't hot to talk about their grilling secrets. When chatting around the grill, expect to hear sizzling stories about anything but the food. Thirty-nine percent of consumers admit they gossip about the neighborhood, family and friends more than any other topic when socializing around the grill. While not as popular, other topics discussed included global news, politics and events (18 percent) and sports (16 percent), respectively. With a record-breaking year in 2007, the barbecue industry continues to thrive. Other findings include:  Nearly eight out of 10 (77 percent) households own an outdoor barbecue grill or smoker, a 5 percent increase from 2003; Sixty-eight percent of households that own a grill, have a gas grill, followed by charcoal (37 percent) and electric (2 percent); The majority of grill owners use their grills year-round (58 percent), and 45 percent use their grills one to two times per week during the peak grilling season (May through September); Traditional summer holidays top the list of the most popular grilling holidays: the Fourth of July (69 percent), Memorial Day (56 percent) and Labor Day (50 percent); Meats, including burgers (82 percent), steak(79 percent), chicken parts (72 percent) and hot dogs (71 percent), top the list of the most popular foods prepared using a grill; and consumers' are also wild about veggies, with corn and potatoes among the most popular veggies to cook on a grill. Happy grilling!