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This July 4th, Celebrate Two Million Years of Grilling

The advent of open fire cooking began with Homo erectus

Mmm. Meat. Photo: kidmissile

The fireworks are out back, you’ve got a beer in your hand, and the hot dogs are ready to go. You look down at the flames dancing from glowing charcoal briquettes and think: “At this moment, I’m carrying on a tradition that goes back to…Huh, I wonder when people first started grilling?” Because—we see you there—you really like history and during America’s National Grill-Off that is exactly the kind of thing that would jump into your head.

The modern American grill got its start in the 1940s, with the rise of suburbia. But that’s not really what you meant. You want the long history of grilling. Like, when did people, as a species, start grilling? Well, for that we’ll point you to this presentation grilling guru Steven Raichlen gave at the Library of Congress last year.

Grilling, says Raichlen, “didn’t start in Texas. It didn’t start in North Carolina. It didn’t even start in the Americas. We have to go back, way back… he first of our human ancestors that we have evidence cooked meat with fire was Homo erectus.”

If you’re impatient, or not the video watching type, there is also a full transcript of the presentation.

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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