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For most of human history, an open fire was the only way to cook a meal, so it’s no wonder that the urge to grill is in our nature. Some scientists believe that cooking with fire is actually what led us to evolve into humans. Cooked food being easier to digest left us more time for other things, like inventing the wheel… or the barbecue grill.
A 2020 report from the Patio and Barbecue Association, claims that close to two-thirds of Americans have a grill or a smoker in their house. The Food Industry Association’s 2020 report, “The Power of Meat” found even more evidence of Americans’ inclination to grill, claiming more than fifty percent prefer to grill. Harris Spice has a number of restaurant ready seasoning blends to invigorate summertime menu options.
According to chef James Beard, grilling is nothing short of an art, much more than throwing a piece of meat on the fire as a means to fill an empty stomach. However, not everyone belongs to the same school of thought; some put on the outdoor barbecue just for the fun of it.
So, what makes people love their grills & barbecues so much?
The State of the Barbecue Industry report lists taste as the factor above all others driving people from their kitchens to their backyard or lawn to cook. In fact, more than thirty percent prefer a grill only because of convenience. Some adults even mention grilling as a means to improve their culinary talents, indulging in it as a hobby. Cooking over open charcoal flames, the time-honored tradition of grilling is fast catching up with cooking in the kitchen as a way to prepare food.
The same report found that more than 55 percent of Americans prefer a cookout on important calendar dates like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Improved flavor, convenience, and the social aspect of traditional grilling continue to draw consumer attention. With an ever-increasing band of influencers on social media, grilling has come a long way, emerging as an engagement opportunity for retailers and food brands alike. With Covid-19 forcing people to stay home and the weather warming up, grilling is a sure-fire fun way to enjoy fresh air, without having to leave your home base.
So, what’s grilling for 2020?
While 2020 is projected to be a year of reinterpretation of classic dishes, seeing innovative throw-ins and new artful arrangements, traditional fare like burgers, chicken, steaks, and hot dogs continues to top the list.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reveals that a large number of Americans who are generally fond of hot dogs prefer them cooked on a grill, compared to microwaving, pan-frying or steaming.
The Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association reports of a perennial classic that stands next to hotdogs and burgers in popularity – beef ribs and ribeye steaks. Both items are generally in huge demand beginning around May through September.
However, given shifting consumer trends post COVID, it is not only beef ribs and burgers going on the grill this season. Americans are reportedly also stocking up on seafood, poultry and plant-based foods.
A healthy twist
With a large number of consumers concerned about health, we find an increasing amount of seafood is making its way to the grill. And guess what? It is not just shrimp. Norwegian fish are emerging as one of the chief ingredients in uniquely cooked hot dogs and hamburgers, with Steelhead trout and salmon replacing pork in hot dogs.
Seafood is great paired with veggies, and this grilling season Americans will enjoy their seafood along with onions, fresh herbs, grilled tomatoes, a dash of olive oil and seafood grill rub.
Recreating restaurant favorites
With a large number of consumers choosing to stay safe at home, there is a trend toward recreating restaurant favorites on the grill with dishes like chicken wings or carne asada and pollo asado. Americans are exploring Cajun seasonings, herbs, spices and aromatics as well as various marinades of oil and acid. Popular recipe choices include Korean Marinated, Blackberry-Chive Glazed, Chipotle-Spiced Honey Garlic and Sriracha Spiced Sticky, to name but a few. Also, let’s not forget the Mexican and Japanese influence that has significantly affected major cuisine styles across the country.
Besides animal-based proteins, plant-based products are also a significant part of what we’re grilling this season. With organic farming initiatives promising toxicity free and high sustainable fare, it comes as no surprise that vegetables will replace a greater number of main courses on the dining table.
Grilling experts and chefs opine how 2020 is destined to be the year of the smoking trend in grilling. In an increasingly important scenario, where consumers are turning to plant-based foods, smoked charcoal cooking dramatically uplifts the essence of the food being cooked and consumed. A famous New York based restaurant has already been in the news for their special blend of Chinese tea that comes bearing the smell of barbecue. For vegetables, chefs are experimenting with smoked cheese and butter as well to liven up the aromatic delight of traditional barbecue.
The resurgence of regional delights
As people are looking to stay at home more, chefs are digging into regional roots for BBQ inspiration. As such, any item on the grill when paired with regional accents like Memphis (Natural sweetness of vinegar and tomatoes), Texas (Spicy), or Kansas style (Molasses sweet) sauces goes a long way to tickle the taste buds.
Grilling is more than a tradition
Undeniably, grilling outdoors is a nostalgic inclination that the present generation owes to its predecessors. Even with the social changes that have come with the advent of COVID, 2020 might just be the BBQ’s best year. From veggies to meat or seafood, consumers are grilling their way through the crisis, hoping for good times to show up soon.