Your most powerful grilling memories


Chris Allingham

Staff member
I was recently in San Diego on a weekend, driving around Mission Bay, a nice beachy park area for those not familiar. The place was packed with cars and RVs enjoying the day and grilling outside. The air was filled with the smell of charcoal and lighter fluid. It brought back such wonderful memories of childhood and grilling with my dad and grandfathers.

Fast-forward to yesterday...I was shopping at Lowe's. I passed by a display of Kingsford Lighter Fluid. I came *this* close to buying a can!

These are some powerful memories! What kind of powerful memories does grilling conjur up for you?


Mark Q

TVWBB Member
I'm not sure if the smell of the lighter fluid takes me back or the sound the metal can used to make when you sprayed it on the charcoal. Either way I associate it with my childhood as well. Even the site if a black Weber kettle itself takes me back. Back then it was the old 3 wheel design kettle with wood handles and the ash tray that attached directly to the legs.

I just bought a new 1 touch gold 22.5" and was going to retire my old 18.5" with the wood handle and 3 wheels. Upon futher pondering I think I'll just shine it up a bit and keep it as a backup.

My grandfather used to make the best grilled chicken. He'd do it on an el cheapo drug store round grill with no vent control, no lid, and the meat would be an inch or 2 from the charcoal. He'd foil the grate which probably limited the fire temperature somewhat. It was an awful grill by Weber standards, but he made it work.

Robert McGee

TVWBB Gold Member
Back when I got married and we bought our first house, I had a little poured concrete patio. I had a cheap grill (hadn't yet discovered the Weber) that had a nice rotisserie. We didn't have air conditioning (hardly anyone did). One summer I cooked every supper on the grill including the sides. It gave my wife a break and didn't heat the house up.

We had lots of chicken, hamburgers, and an occasional steak. Actually, the meat was better in those days. No one was worried about "fat" meat and steaks and chops had WAY-Y-Y more flavor - even the cheap cuts.

One of my favorites was a small chicken on the rotisserie along with fresh sweet corn (this area has some of the best sweet corn in the Universe). We didn't have much disposable income but boy did we eat well!!


Andy Beers

TVWBB Diamond Member
I agree with Chris I still use fluid to lite the grills but never in the smoker. My little girl likes the flames produced by using way to much. I remember my dad doing that as well.

Les Stubby

My greatest memories were grilling with my father, my idol, who would be 97 if he were still with us. His idea of grilling was to cook everything really well done, sometimes beyond recognition. And to control the fire, pre weber, he had a spritz bottle of water. Not very sophisticated, but effective. Then he bought his first, and only, weber, an 18 " light green model. The first turkey I ever saw smoked/grilled was probably 35 years ago on that small grill. My dad rigged an old bent grill and hung it using picture hanging wire into the grill so the turkey would have enough clearance. Worked like a champ. No timers, meat thermometers, etc. Fun times. Wish he was with me today.

Les Stubby

Gary Bramley

I hear you Chris! My nostalgia for watching my dad grill as a kid most definitely has a waft of lighter fluid, but even at that young age the primal thrill of watching him build a fire to cook meat was there. Nothing like the smell of burning wood/coal and fat vaporizing in the coals.


John Solak

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
My Grandpa or my Dad didn't grill a lot, just on camping trips or a few family gatherings but the smell of lighter fluid and charcoal instantly takes me to my childhood, especially when bbq chicken is involved.

Ron G.

TVWBB Wizard

When I was about 6 years old - back in '72ish, Dad did Sales for a TV & Appliance Store that also happened to sell Weber grills. With the Employee Discount, he set himself up with a top-of-the-line 26-inch brownie. He had the ring for holding potatoes / corn, and the wooden table that hung on the handle (if the set-screws for the legs were not tight, the whole dang thing could and did collapse occasionally).

It was a "small luxury" that Dad was able to afford - he worked 2 jobs, so that Mom could stay home with my brother and me. We did not have much money back then, but since we were small, we did not really know it.

Dad use lighter fluid (usually Gulf Lite) & blue-bag K, but always let it burn-off before cooking. He cooked all sorts of good stuff on that Weber (we hardly ever went out for meals - it was probably too expensive back then). Some of Dad's more memorable meals were Pineapple-glazed Ham and a Turkey for Thanksgiving.

When we got a bit older, I remember some good days in late summer where we spend the day Salmon fishing on Lake Michigan, and then had some really fresh stuff on the grill for dinner.

Then there was his father - Grandpa:
Nice, casual Saturday or Sunday afternoons. He had one of the old, glass-front units with a Rotisseree. He ALWAYS used an Electric Starter (heating element "loop" with a handle and cord that you plugged-in to an outlet). He would embed the starter in a pile of coals, get it started, then spread-out the coals, and after a while - he would put the food on.

I fondly remember grandpa's crispy-skin, golden-brown chicken with grandma's German-style potato salad (writing about this is making me hungry...). Washed it down with ice-cold Orange Crush that came in the brown bottles or Squirt.

Is all of this nostalgia making me sound like an "old-timer"? I'll admit that I'm no young'n anymore, but I don't feel THAT old...

dwayne e

TVWBB Super Fan
Mine are from when I was a small child in the 70's.......the cheesy 3 legged portable grill from Topps (Baltimore version of KMART), aluminum foil on the grate and lots of lighter fluid......and I'm not talking about today's wimpy lighter fluid. I'm talking about the lighter fluid that would burn your eyebrows if you got too close to the "POOF" that occurred when you chucked a match at it from 10 feet away. And then there's the flavor of the hotdogs.....that unmistakable lighter fluid profile that get's into the meat when you put it on too early after lighting the coals.

Good Times!!!


TVWBB Member
I think there's a whole generation of us who think of our dads when we smell Kingsford Blue lit with lighter fluid.

I do every time.


Corey Elks

TVWBB All-Star
always the smell of the fluid. I remember probably 35-40 years ago my dads yellow three wheeler. Getting that thing going with kingsford and lighter fluid. Such a distint smell.... Love ya dad!!

Ray Crick

TVWBB Emerald Member
Almost 20 years ago, we had two outdoor cats that loved leftovers from my Weber kettle. Whenever I fired up the grill (with lighter fluid), those two cats (named Rascal and Leggins) would smell it and come and sit by the grill until I was done. They would then follow me into the house and wait until the meal was over for their "treats".
One Thanksgiving when I cooked a turkey and put it on the dining room table, my wife found that Rascal was on the table trying to get a bite of the turkay! We had to watch him more after that episode.
Thanks for bringing back those memories Chris.


It's been many moons since my Grandfather grilled. He would use this charcoal that was encased like a egg carton. He would just light a corner to start the charcoal. My Uncle would season the burgers with garlic powder and onion salt while they cooked. The smell was sublime.

Gary Hodgin

TVWBB Super Fan
I've had some good and some not so good memories but the one that sticks out the most was the time I almost burned a wooden deck down.

The deck was attached to our house and I had one of those kettle grills (non-weber) with no lid. There were a couple of small rusted out places in the bottom but I thought they were too small for coals to get through.

While we were eating my SIL asked me what I had on the grill. I looked out and about 4 coals had fallen though and had the deck smoldering. A few more minutes and I'd had a major problem.


New member
Every Thanksgiving, Dad would do up a turkey on the old three wheeler. The smokey flavor of the gravy made from the drippings is something I will always treasure. I still have that old grill in my collection.

Al N.

TVWBB Member
My dad and I were never into grilling. Their house had a small backyard with neighbor’s right next to us on the left, right and a stone’s throw in the back. On a whim, I brought my dad (who was already retired at the time) a small portable Go-Anywhere Weber charcoal grill. This was about 5 years ago.

We quickly graduated to a 22” OTG and now have a Weber rotisserie, all kinds of rotisserie baskets, different grilling gadgets (wireless thermometer, grill lights, metal skewers, cooking utensils, etc), wood chunks everywhere, and recently got the Weber sear grate insert system. Not to mention all the different type rubs and sauces we have tried. And although we always have about a dozen bags of charcoal in the basement, we regularly check for Kingsford Charcoal sales at Home Depot when we are there.

So my best memory was that first day with my dad, five years ago, trying to figure out how to put together the Go-Anywhere Weber grill, trying to figure out how to light the charcoal, control the temperature, and how cook the food without incineration (we did not learn the words “indirect heat” until the 2nd cookout). We were both flying blind, but had a great time.

My only regret was that our grilling adventure only started five years ago and not a lot sooner.

Ted M (FatEddy)

TVWBB Super Fan
Back in the 60's when I was a kid I would help my dad setting up and lighting one of those small cast iron hibachi grills, it's the only grill we had. He used an electric loop to start the charcoal. I always wanted to use lighter fluid, but he said it stank too much. He taught me well. I honestly can't remember the food we grilled, but I'm guessing it was burgers. Many, many years later after we moved into a bigger house and my dad had a fancy gas grill installed with a natural gas feed. We thought that was the coolest thing. One summer night when I was grilling something with my dad, he said to me, this gas grill works real well but I miss the old hibachi.
To this day every time I see one of those little hibachi's it makes me think of my dad. I might just go buy one.

Brandon N.

Ted, I wish you lived closer because I'd cut you a deal on the Lodge cast iron hibachi I have on craigslist. Thanks for sharing your story.

I'd have to say my fondest memory is entering my first rib comp with my brother and wife as a team members. 14 teams. Lots of big trailer stick burners. We had the bullet. No canopy. Just got blasted on the concrete in the sun. Brought a 30 pack of beer, wings, and corn to cook during the day to eat and hand out. Dad was in the area at a car show and stopped by during turn in. Several close friends also came by to critique before submitting. They went through the places, and I had palpitations when they announced our name as the winners! We just went to have fun and give it a shot. Could tell some of the stick burner owners were ticked. lol
They knew nothing of the powers of the bullet, and couldn't believe a little grill beat them.

Never in a million years thought we were going to win. I remember looking over at my dad as we were shaking hands with the organizers, and getting the awards. It was priceless. He was even shocked. And for my brother, he really didn't cook much at that time. It really ignited the fires, he has since purchased and modded his own WSM, and has a SJP.

Every time I'm at his house visiting and reach for a beer in his fridge, there is a pic of us three that day along the banks of the Mississippi River. Good stuff.
My Dad was always grilling as I grew up. He mostly used lump charcoal and of course lit it with Gulf Lite. We lived in the Finger Lakes region of NYS and most Sundays in the summer we'd put the boat into Canandaigua and take a lap around the lake. On the east shore about 2/3rds of the down the lake, their were no cottages - only a steep rock wall going up from the waterline. We'd pull ashore and have a picnic lunch and swim. Dad has a portable grill and we'd cook steaks and make steak sandwiches on hard rolls. Yum.

Bob Sample

TVWBB Diamond Member
When I was a kid my Dad had a grill that had a grate that you could spin and it would raise and lower it on a screw mechanism. I used to be fascinated by spinning the thing and watching the meat go round & round and up and down. If he didn't keep an eye on me I would either scorch the heck out of the chicken or leave it so high that it wouldn't cook.
We also had a hibachi that we took camping the grates were probably 16x8 and my Dad would manage to grill chicken for 6 kids and 2 adults on that thing. I have no idea how he did it.
This reminded me that I have a hibachi I bought years ago tucked away in my garage somewhere still in the box. Think I'll dig it out and do some RSC on it and see if I can grill as good as my dad used to on the thing.