George Foreman Grill
|Inventor||Michael Boehm, Robert Johnson|
|Available||United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia|
|Website||George Foreman US, George Foreman UK|
The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, commonly known as the George Foreman Grill, is a portable electrically heated grill manufactured by Spectrum Brands. It is promoted by former boxing champion George Foreman. Since its introduction in 1994, over 100 million George Foreman grills have been sold worldwide.
The concept for the grill was created by Michael Boehm of Batavia, Illinois. The original intention was to create an indoor grill that would provide a unique benefit of cooking on both sides at once. A second key benefit was to reduce the fat content of hamburgers and other meats by draining away the fat into a separate reservoir. Michael Boehm designed the product with a floating hinge and slanted grilling surface to accommodate foods of different thicknesses and drain fat away from the food. Engineering work was done by Bob Johnson. Bob and Mike brought a JVC camcorder and a sample of the product in bright yellow to the office of Barbara Westfield at Salton. The video was played showing fat dripping down from the grill into the collection tray. They presented the product as: THE FAJITA EXPRESS. The fajita grill had been promoted at industry trade shows in the early 1990s, but received little interest.
The slanted grill concept was pitched by Tsann Kuen to Salton Inc. After 1 year, and several trade shows, Salton sent samples of the grill to George Foreman's colleagues who then sent the grill to Foreman to test out. Boehm was not involved in teaming up the grill and Foreman. Salton made several changes to the technical function of the product including removing the 4 'risers' which Mike and Bob had so that the user could lift up the grill, slide in the tray (two were included) and fill taco shells. One tray was for grease of fajita meat, and the second tray was to hold a taco shell. This is the exact demo shown to Barbara Westfield at the original presentation at the Salton office in Mt. Prospect Illinois.
The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, as it became known, was introduced in 1994 and promoted with distinctive infomercials which featured Foreman. A combination of his affable personality and the unique features of the product made it a huge success. Such was the popularity of these infomercials that Foreman's famous tagline, "It's so good I put my name on it!", is now part of popular culture. In Asia, the grill is endorsed and promoted by both George Foreman and Jackie Chan.
The product has a clamshell design which simultaneously heats the top and bottom surfaces of the food, eliminating the need to flip it. Each heating surface is grooved to reduce contact area, and covered in a non-stick coating. The lower heating surface is angled to allow melted fat and other fluids to drain through the grooves into a removable drip tray, which clearly shows the amount removed from the food. This arrangement has been marketed as a way to "knock out the fat", suggesting a healthier way to cook.
The grill is offered in various sizes for cooking individual or multiple servings. In 2006, the George Foreman "Next Grilleration" Health Grill was launched, which features detachable grilling plates for easier cleaning. It has gone through several other versions, differing in their control interfaces and design.
In 2014, an updated Foreman Grill was released called the "Evolve Grill". The Evolve grill features interchangeable ceramic (Teflon-free) plates, in addition to the well known clam-shell design that simultaneously heats the top and bottom surfaces. The plates available are the traditional grill plates, waffle plates, a bake dish, mini burgers, a flat griddle, and a muffin pan.
The worldwide popularity of the George Foreman grill has resulted in sales of over 100 million units since it was first launched, a feat that was achieved in a little over 15 years. Although Foreman has never confirmed exactly how much he has earned from the endorsement, Salton Inc paid him $138 million in 1999 in order to buy out the right to use his name. Previous to that he was being paid about 40% of the profits on each grill sold (earning him $4.5 million a month in payouts at its peak), so it is estimated he has made a total of over $200 million from the endorsement, a sum that is substantially more than he earned as a boxer.
The success of the George Foreman Grill spawned a variety of similar celebrity-endorsed products such as the Evander Holyfield Real Deal Grill, for which Holyfield starred in a 2007 infomercial, and the Carl Lewis Health Grill. (The Jackie Chan Grill is the same grill, but targets the Asian market, and is endorsed by both Jackie Chan and George Foreman.) None of these imitators, however, achieved the level of success of the Foreman Grill.
In popular culture
- On the Nickelodeon television series Drake & Josh, it was parodied as the Gary Coleman grill.
- In U.S. version of The Office, Michael Scott steps on a George Foreman Grill in "The Injury".
- On the animated television series King of the Hill, the grill is a pivotal subject of the episode "Boxing Luanne", in which lead character, Hank Hill, insults George Foreman by referring to the grill as a "novelty grill", leading to a livid Foreman to call for the fight between Foreman's daughter, Freeda, and Hank's niece, Luanne.
A Play-Doh set was created to look like a George Foreman grill.
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