BBQ Tray


After World War II, many newly affluent Americans had the means and desire to travel. They flocked to the tropics, visiting Pacific islands, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia, as well as warm places closer to home, including Mexico, California, Hawaii, and Florida. People developed a taste for casual living and the distinctive local foods and drink. Returning home, they re-created these experiences in their new suburban backyards, with patios, tropical drinks, and the grill, where they cooked meals craved by a postwar meat-mad America. The outdoor patio grill created a new kind of space for American families, and also defined a special role for men in meal preparation.

By the late 1950s, American manufacturers and retailers were promoting new tools, clothes, furniture, and serving ware to go along with grilled meals on the patio. Some of the goods available, clothes for the grillmaster, for example, and other goods, actually pictured some of the other “necessities” of the backyard life.

The BBQ tray (one of a set of four), about 1965, pictured here, has enameled on it (like a barbecue shirt and hat in the collections), all the ingredients (tools, foods) needed for a backyard barbecue. The centerpiece of the tray shows the iconic charcoal kettle grill (see Weber grill) sitting on the patio bricks, but with a fancy new rotisserie attachment which holds meat chunks smoldering away. Other designs picture some of the ingredients of a backyard cookout, onions, cheese, the tools (spatula, flippers, knife, vinegar and oil bottles, salt-and-pepper shakers-on-a-handle,) and three decorative toothpicks which the grillmaster would use to indicate whether a piece of meat was well-done, rare, or medium rare.

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Food Culturekitchen


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Domestic Life, Food, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2012.0072.01Accession Number: 2012.0072Catalog Number: 2012.0072.01

Object Name: trayplate holderplatetray set

Physical Description: metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 1/2 in x 10 3/4 in; 1.27 cm x 27.305 cm


Record Id: nmah_1422142

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