As we move into summer, Americans start polishing off the collector car and getting out the BBQ. I never put the two activities together other than they are both favorite summer pastimes, however they are both closely related thanks to Henry Ford. I found the start of this article in our archives which was submitted by museum volunteer John Austin , who is the former President of the Galloping Gertie Model A Ford Club of Tacoma Washington.
Model T’s Ford bodies are composed of a sheet metal skin over a wooden frame. Henry Ford produced over 15 million Model T’s over its 19-year run (1908-1927), and simultaneously produced vast quantities of wood waste.
E.G. Kingsford, a relative of Mr. Ford who owned a Ford dealership and also happened to be a real estate agent, engineered the purchase of over 313,000 acres of land on the Michigan Upper Peninsula upon which a sawmill and wooden auto parts plant were built in 1920. Soon after Ford, who was known as a notoriously frugal businessman, partnered with Kingsford and founded the Kingsford Company to reclaim saleable byproducts from the manufacturing waste. For every ton of scrap wood produced, this plant was able to extract 610 pounds of charcoal. This charcoal was manufactured into briquettes and sold under the name Ford Charcoal Briquettes. Now a ready source for outdoor cooking, this was the beginning of Americans cooking and barbecuing with charcoal.
Briquettes were re-named Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes (in honor of E.G.) a brand that still exists today. As a result of his entrepreneurial sense, Henry Ford is credited as forming the foundations of two industries both the automobile industry and the charcoal briquette industry.