10 March 2020
The history of the Big Green Egg
The original kamado since ’74. The innovation of a classic.
Barbecuing has received an enormous boost since the introduction of the Big Green Egg. Before the Big Green Egg, most barbecues could only carry out simple grill preparations. With the EGG, a multifunctional cooker entered the market. For the first time ever, an entire outdoor kitchen was essentially combined into a single appliance. But just how long has this kamado been around and what is the story behind this special brand?
Most Europeans were introduced to the kamado in the 21st century. However, the history of the ceramic barbecue starts about 5,000 years ago with the tandoor, a ceramic clay pot without a lid. It was used as an oven to bake bread and cook meat.
This Asian early kamado is related to the later mushikamado, a rice steamer that was given a lid over 100 years ago. This made it possible, among other things, to retain and control the heat, which made this mushikamado an interesting cooker. But the actual story begins in 1974, when the U.S. was introduced to this Asian kamado.
The very first import
That year the American Big Green Egg founder Ed Fisher started importing mushikamados, alongside his import of Pachinkos, Japanese pinball machines. He was immediately convinced that this egg-shaped, ceramic cooker would be an asset to the barbecue scene.
The closed system and the ceramic as a base material in combination with the shape ensured, among other things, temperature control, airflow and lower fuel consumption than the standard barbecues at the time. Moreover, the cooked ingredients tasted delicious. However, he had yet to convince the customers of his shop in Atlanta (Georgia, USA). Ed Fisher let them taste simple ingredients cooked on the kamado like grilled chicken wings. Which was a success!
However, the quality of Asian kamados left something to be desired. The ceramic of the colourful, imported kamados was fragile. This resulted in frequent breakage during transport and rapid temperature shifts when using the kamados. The ceramic needed to be stronger, more durable and lighter, but also have better heat insulating properties. The search for the ultimate ceramic began.
Own production and NASA ceramics
The Georgia Institute of Technology had been researching lightweight ceramic since the 1960s. Its main objective was the assembly of ceramics that could withstand extreme heat, among other things for NASA’s space activities. The heat-resistant ceramic tiles of the space shuttles were exposed to extremely high temperatures during the flight. One of Ed Fisher’s friends worked at the faculty where these ceramics were developed. He helped him choose the ultimate ceramic for the Big Green Egg, and a high tech factory where it could be produced. From that moment on, the EGGs were also coated with a solid porcelain enamel. In the mid-1990s, the real Big Green Egg was a fact!
Big Green Egg meets Europe
This new, sustainable kamado has already proven its worth for decades. Transport ceased to be a problem and this perfected version of the EGG was able to cope with huge shifts in temperature with ease and infinite frequency. The combination of materials and production method of the ceramic has not changed since then.
Almost 5 years later, it was Europe’s turn to meet the Big Green Egg. A Dutchman purchased a Big Green Egg during a family visit to Atlanta and brought it back to the Netherlands. Business associate Wessel Buddingh’, an importer of bricks at the time, saw, tasted and immediately recognised the potential of this barbecue 2.0. The result? In 2001 a container of Big Green Eggs arrived at the port of Rotterdam. A new chapter in the history of the Big Green Egg had started.
50 years later
After Wessel and his team put Big Green Egg on the map in the Netherlands, the rest of Europe followed. The leading brand now distributes 7 different models and additional accessories to over 40 countries in Europe.
With almost 50 years of experience in the world of ceramic barbecues, Big Green Egg is known as The Evergreen among kamados, with a lifetime guarantee on the ceramic. But the story continues. Big Green Egg continues to invest in possible improvements. The base remains the same, but sometimes a small adjustment or extra accessory makes a big difference. So that cooking on your ceramic barbecue becomes even easier and more fun!
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