Over the past 50 years, Big Green Egg has become a globally loved brand. Something Ed Fisher, founder of Big Green Egg Inc, never dreamed of in the 1970s when he introduced the kamado to the Western world and perfected the details of the cooking appliance. Discover the extraordinary history of The Evergreen here.

Although Europe was only introduced to the Big Green Egg at the beginning of the 21st century, its history dates back much further. Its distant predecessor was the wood-fired tandoor, a ceramic clay pot without a lid. The tandoor was already being used some 5,000 years ago as a kind of oven for baking bread and cooking meat. This Asian primal kamado is related to the later mushi-kamado, a rice steamer fitted with a lid over 100 years ago. Among other things, this allowed heat to be retained and provided control over the fire, making this mushi-kamado a special cooker. The real story begins 50 years ago in 1974, when the US was introduced to this Asian kamado thanks to Ed Fisher.

Pachinko House

Ed Fisher, who travelled to Japan after his time in the navy, saw the kamado in the land of the rising sun. Once back in the US, he became acquainted with other servicemen who had brought a kamado or two to cook on at home. Ed did the same with the idea of selling them. Not long later, he opened the doors of a small shop on Clairmont Road in Atlanta, Pachinko House, in 1974. Ed: ‘My core business was importing and selling Japanese pachinko machines, a popular arcade game at the time. But besides that, I had imported 20 or 30 kamados. The pachinko machines were a seasonal product, but by selling kamados I wanted to catch the quiet months.’

Tasty and juicy

‘The kamado, which means oven or cooker, was virtually unknown in the US at that time,’ Ed continues. ‘The American barbecue scene cooked on kettle barbecues. Only a few soldiers who had also been stationed in Japan had taken this cooker home with them. They fitted the kamado with a grill and used it as a smoker and barbecue. I remember cooking on a kamado for the first time myself and tasting the result, it was amazingly juicy and tasty! At first I still thought it might be a coincidence because I was hungry, but the times after that it tasted just as good.’

Ed's chicken wings

To pique the curiosity of customers and passers-by and introduce them to the tasty and succulent result, Ed Fisher places a kamado in front of his shop. He prepares chicken wings on it and the bustle and delicious smell attract attention. Ed: ‘I chose chicken wings because I had a low budget and they were not that expensive. People passing by did not know what they were tasting. I remember when I had just opened and someone tasted a chicken wing. Half an hour later, I had sold my first kamado. In that moment, I thought, wow, this could be something. But I never thought it would be this big.’

Advantages of a kamado

From then on, people are convinced by their own experience of the added value of this special cooker and its popularity grows rapidly, partly through word-of-mouth. ‘People discovered the benefits of a kamado,’ Ed continues. ‘Because besides the tasty result, it also consumed less fuel than a kettle barbecue. The customers who bought one cooked for family and friends, who also got excited. After a few years, sales of the pachinko machines dropped, at the same time as electronic video games made their appearance, and I put the focus entirely on selling and developing the kamados.’ At that time, Ed Fisher was still importing the kamados from Japan and they were painted in different colours. But soon Ed decided that every kamado should be green from now on and he no longer called them kamado, but Big Green Egg. Because that’s what he saw when he looked at it!

The best in the world

As popularity grew, the company responded to the need for multiple models and the Mini, Small and Medium models were introduced. Based on feedback from his customers and his own experiences, Ed Fisher continuously perfected the kamados. This included equipping the cooker with a dome thermometer and followed the advice not to fire with briquettes, but with natural charcoal. Resulting in better temperature control and to avoid unwanted flavours that briquettes sometimes caused. Ed: ‘My cooking skills were also improving and I was not yet satisfied with the quality and thermal properties of the clay-made kamados from Asia. They were fragile, resulting in frequent breakages during transport and rapid temperature changes when using the kamados. The ceramics had to be stronger, more durable and lighter, but also have better heat-insulating properties. I wanted to make the best kamado in the world.’

The ultimate ceramic

The search for the ultimate ceramic followed. At the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), research into lightweight ceramics had been going on since the 1960s. The main aim was to compose ceramics that could withstand extreme heat, including for the purpose of NASA’s space activities. Indeed, the space shuttles’ heat-resistant ceramic tiles were exposed to extremely high temperatures during flight. Ed: ‘One of my friends was working at the faculty where these ceramics were developed. He advised on choosing the ultimate ceramic for the Big Green Egg and tipped off a high-tech factory in Mexico where the ceramic parts could be made. In the mid-1990s, we stopped importing kamados from Asia and started producing the Big Green Egg in-house. From then on, all ceramic parts were produced in North America and each EGG was coated with a solid porcelain glaze. Today, all parts come from America.’

Strong and durable

‘The Big Green Egg is the only kamado produced here to strict quality standards, unlike most kamados that still come from Asia,’ Ed continued. ‘Customary ceramics are less solid, less durable and much less heat-insulating than the NASA-developed ceramics from which the Big Green Egg is made. The ceramic of the Big Green Egg consists of a unique and carefully balanced fine composition of clay. This gives the ceramic a fine texture and makes it strong and durable. Thanks to the extremely insulating effect of the ceramic, the Big Green Egg uses charcoal economically and the temperature is very stable. Fine ceramics also absorb less moisture from ingredients than kamados with coarser ceramics. This way, the end result has more flavour and stays juicier. Another important point is that when heated, ceramics expand, and shrink again when cooled. Thanks to the superior structure of the Big Green Egg ceramics, this happens more evenly so the risk of cracking is minimal.’

Big Green Egg goes to Europe

From then on, it became easier to transport the Big Green Eggs and, at the same time, the distribution and dealer network in the US and Canada grew. ‘In 2001, Wessel Buddingh’ came along,’ Ed recalls. ‘He wanted to introduce the Big Green Egg to Europe. I saw something of myself in him. Wessel had the same drive and vision, so I gladly entered into this collaboration. Just as I experienced myself in America, the first few years were a real challenge. But eventually, Europe too embraced the Big Green Egg. It’s great that we have many fans there now too.’


Meanwhile, developments did not stand still, resulting in several innovations. Perhaps the most revolutionary launch after the introduction of ceramics was that of the convEGGtor, initially called Plate Setter. This made the EGG hugely versatile as it allowed the Big Green Egg to be converted into a hot-air oven which enabled even more cooking techniques. The intEGGrated Nest+Handler, which made moving the EGG much easier, and the improved hinge system, to make the Big Green Egg even easier to open and close, were also great improvements and additions. Then came the rEGGulator, which allowed even better temperature control, the EGGspander and numerous other accessories. And also the use of steel bands around the ceramic base and dome has been a deliberate choice to perfect the EGGs. The reason being that, unlike stainless steel, this metal shrinks and expands with the ceramic when heated. In addition, three more models have been added to the family in recent years: the XLarge, 2XL and the popular MiniMax.

50 years of Big Green Egg

‘The number of fans is still growing and we are proud of that. The Big Green Egg is the result of a solid foundation and 50 years of research, development and innovation, where every detail has been extensively researched and tested. Over the years, we have developed a unique cooker and achieved the goal of producing the best kamado in the world. We are still investing in possible improvements so that Big Green Egg remains the best kamado of its kind worldwide. Successfully, as the Big Green Egg has often been copied but never equalled,’ Ed concludes. ‘And it’s meant to stay that way for the next 50 years!’

  • What is the EGGtoberfest?

    The EGGtoberfest in Atlanta has been an annual event since 1998. It is a unique food event, by EGGers for EGGers, that once originated through an online forum. On the forum, American EGGers shared their love of cooking on the Big Green Egg, exchanging experiences and recipes, asking questions and giving each other advice. Someone suggested meeting. This meeting took place at the American Legion Hall in Atlanta where charcoal was lit in some 15 Big Green Eggs and 100 people gathered to taste each other’s creations. Meanwhile, the EGGtoberfest takes place at the AAA Gwinnett Stripers’ baseball stadium: Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It has grown into a huge meet, greet and eat event with over 200 EGGs, attracting 3,000 fans from all corners of the States. Most of the Big Green Eggs are still manned by EGGende fans, who let the public taste their dishes. There are also several professionals, including culinary luminaries, chefs and influencers, who are just as enthusiastic about the Big Green Egg as the hobbyists.

  • Why is the Big Green Egg kamado called Big Green Egg?

    The Big Green Egg brand name is not the result of a business strategy, nor does it have a romantic background. Ed Fisher advertised in newspapers thinking no one would know what a kamado was. He wanted to give the product an American-sounding name that people would remember. As Ed looked at one he realised the kamado was big, green and egg-shaped: Big Green Egg! Today, a decision like this would undoubtedly be preceded by months of consumer research and discussions with various committees. But we owe this iconic name to only one man.

  • Why does a Big Green Egg come with dimples?

    Ever wondered why the dome and ceramic base of the Big Green Egg are embossed in the form of dimples? The answer is that this creates a larger surface area that makes the outside of the ceramic less hot and it allows the unique green glaze to adhere better. With any luck, you’ll have a Large model with a heart in the dome and/or the ceramic base. A loving creation created years ago by one of the craftsmen at the factory in Mexico, who hand-make the moulds. Since then, it has remained part of the Big Green Egg tradition!


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