Frustrated over all the weekends he spent “smoking up the neighborhood and burning up half of what [he] cooked” on his old brazier grill, George Stephen decided in 1951 to make himself a better barbecue. Fortunately, he was a metal-worker and a part owner at Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago, giving him the skills and the tools to do it.
Using parts from the buoys that Weber Brothers made for use on Lake Michigan, George eventually created the first kettle grill. He called it “George’s Barbecue Kettle” and starting selling it to his friends. By 1958, the kettle proved so successful that George Stephen bought out the rest of the company, renamed it Weber-Stephens Products, and devoted it to only manufacturing his grill.
Since then, “George’s Barbecue Kettle” has become the symbol of American outdoor grilling and has fueled Weber-Stephens’s growth into a market leader that sells several lines of grills in countries around the world. And now Weber sells its barbecue kettle (after decades of fine tuning) as The One-Touch Series, which offers grills in sizes ranging from 18.5” to 26.75” (diameter of the grilling surface) and with extra features beyond the basic Silver version such as an aluminum ash catcher (Gold and Platinum versions) or additional work surfaces, tool hooks, and a built-in thermometer (Platinum version). All three versions also feature porcelain-coated steel construction for durability, an aluminum vent to control airflow, and Weber’s patented One-Touch system for easy cleaning. (The Gold Version is shown above.)
American Alternative Review:
We picked the Weber One-Touch Kettle Grills to be our first charcoal barbecues to review because we thought they would be an open and shut case. Weber headquarters is in Palatine, IL, and their two factories/distribution centers are in Palatine, IL and Huntley, IL (they do have international distribution centers for international sales, but all American sales only go through these two centers). Weber even has a reputation for making their products in America.
But in 2011, a class action lawsuit was brought against Weber claiming that their products were only assembled in America, not made in America. Therefore, the grills’ “Made in USA” markings amounted to false advertising.
Weber settled the lawsuit (if you purchased a qualifying item between 2/15/2007 and 2/15/2012 you have until 6/20/2012 to exclude yourself) and reached an agreement that they would mark their products as “Assembled in America using internationally sourced components” instead of “Made in USA”.
As it turns out though, almost all the parts are made in the USA (in Weber’s factory in Huntley), just not allof them. And given the number of parts in each grill, having them designed, engineered, and assembled in America out of almost entirely American-made parts is still an accomplishment unlikely to be bettered by any other barbecue grills out there. (You can watch a video of them making the grills here.)
You can check out Weber’s many One-Touch series options here. You can also check out how the One-Touch kettles stacked up against all of the other grills that we reviewed in our Charcoal Grill Category Recap.
*Even though Weber One-Touch Grills don’t receive a perfect score, we round all scores to the nearest half-point.