In this segment, we cover Niches of Fast Food. An example niche mentioned are hot dog concepts. We also will be discussing the use of production management used in fast food operations. Within that topic, we delve a little into management, the staging process as it compares to an assembly line, and the processes of the front and back areas of a fast food restaurant. Then, we conclude with a brief mention of historical gender work roles.
While the Foods Industry itself has its own Niches, Fast Food does too. And some are not fully a niche but more of a specialty or signature element. Here are some of those that have occurred over the decades that are tied to Fast Food Restaurants.
Frozen Mugs (like for serving root beer)
Square burger patties
little buns, sliders
ketchup flavors (yes, there was a chain that focused on that)
hot dog specialties
Mexican or Tex-Mex fast food
custom changes to your fast food orders (the biggest chain that started that was Burger King)
coffee shops, sports bars, etc. for socializing
So, here’s an in-depth example of one of these niches, the hot dog.
The Hot Dog Fast Food Niche
The Hot Dog Concept
The marketing of the hot dog was like any other fast food goal. It was going to try to build a niche that could grow. So, the hot dog was promoted as being cheaper and healthier than the burger. So, to combat this, burger places began adding hot dogs to their menus. But, the hot dog places had different kinds of hot dogs. They had quarter pounder dogs, foot-longs, sausage dogs. And they promoted them with their toppings as if they were different items such as chili dogs, cheese dogs, and even slaw dogs and kraut dogs.
The one thing that many hot dog restaurants did not do however, was to successfully add a good burger to their menu. The main type of fast food restaurants that were able to pull it off and last, was the drive-in type of chains. Examples from the past were Dog n’ Suds and A&W. Today’s modern success story of having a good burger and good type of different hot dog menu items is the Sonic Drive-in Restaurant chain.
Experience with Hot Dog Chain Restaurants
When fast food expanded from the 1950s through the 1970s, some hot dog chain restaurants sprung up also, although not as many as burger joints. During the 1970s, as an assistant manager, I worked in a startup hot dog chain in Florida “Top Dog Restaurant”.
I later worked in management in another hot dog chain, “Dog n Suds“, in Paragould, Arkansas. I concluded with a hamburger and hot dog themed fast food startup called “Frosties”. And I learned some things from people who worked in “Wienerschnitzel” and “Wiener King” chain restaurants.
So, in my final stint in fast food management, I was able to analyze the equipment layout for a new startup and lower the recommended staffing from 75 to 52. It was possible because of the excellent equipment choices, including their layout and productivity features in their design. I understood how to optimize tasking and productivity and shifting back-and-forth between scheduling of high-volume and low-volume using queuing management methods.
So, lets look at some of those productivity concepts from that era, with a few comparisons of today.
Fast Food Industry Applies Production Management
Productivity Elements of Time and Quality
There used to be an old conservative, simpleton saying about getting something done. When a manager would pressure an employee when they were going get something done, the sarcastic reply might have been: “You can have it fast or you can have it right; which do you want?” And, in fact, managers who were being firmly asked about the lateness of a project’s progress, they too have had some attitudinal replies at times to their own bosses.
But this is not about bad attitudes; it’s about how fast food management dealt with defining and improving on those 2 key items of concern that strongly impacted business profits and survival. Do you want it Fast (Time) or do you want it Correct (Quality). In actuality, there is a degree of time duration allowed, along with a degree of quality acceptance to attain when producing something, such as even a meal. What better way to discover how to produce meals with maximum profits and minimal losses than to study manufacturing productivity. High volume factories were known to be leaders in continuously applying all kinds of ways of improving speed and balancing that with determined levels of accepted quality.
The Summarized History of Modern American Management
In the early years of the fast food industry in the 1950s, it was also a birthing time for Modern American Management and a lot of principles were studied as they were applied in the manufacturing industry, which was the fastest growing industry since the end of World War II. Thus, that period of time was named “The Industrial Revolution”.
In those early years, our country exchanged a ton of ideas from Japan, in the area of improving productivity through newer principles of management.
They were a world export leader at that time, similar to how China is today. The Japanese were known for having outstanding management practices in factories. They weren’t very good for dealing with people but they were good with productivity.
Eventually, by the 1970s, the gears were changed and Japan began taking heavy lessons from American Management applied principles. A few historically reputable organizations exist today that have led a significant role of that advancement, specifically such as the American Management Association.
Basic management principles evolved into applying ratios of such key factors as “time” and “quality”. In other words:
What is the fastest, cheapest way I can make something, give it to a customer, and have it where they’ll return again as a repeat customer?
This is where the fast food industry welcomed the high-volume assembly line.
Fast Food Assembly Line Productivity
Fast productivity has an fixed starting point of equipment placement and production layout design. The build-out phase of construction for a new fast food restaurant was always being updated as experience grew. A lot was being learned from factories on how they operated for efficiently producing products repeatedly. The placement of equipment was extremely important for time-and-motion efficiency for saving time and steps. These concepts mimicked production lines from factories. The equipment was positioned in lines and spatial positioning based on the food preparation frequencies. This involved both the back end and the front end.
The Back End Design and Process
In the back, there commonly would be two sides with a large preparation area in the center, which is still a popular model today. The idea is that one side could be shut down during slow times. And as experience grew, this further expanded into having smaller pieces of equipment so that during an extremely slow time, even parts of a side could be shut down. So, each individual side might have multiple fry stations and multiple grills. During extremely busy times, one person on each side would manage their own fry stations, another ran the grills, and 2 others on each side would handle food prep, i.e., making the sandwiches. In total, just for that aspect, there would be 4 people per side, with a total of 8 persons cranking out the food into the labeled food chutes under the warming lamps.
(In Home) Example of Fast Food Staging Process for Fried Fish
In the back, all equipment related to cooking and heating was placed along both of the back, longer walls. In the center there might be a large double-sided food preparation center that included refrigerated units of stainless steel pans containing toppings and condiments. Microwaves were usually on a longer top shelf on both sides of that long prep area. The microwaves were often used for quickly thawing out something or for heating up something to make it a bit hotter. As an example, if a fast food operation hardly ever sold a steak sandwich, they might be kept frozen. When an order comes in for one, the microwave could be used to thaw it out, followed by then turning around to put it on the grill. When it was cooked, the employee would then take it off the grill, turn around to face the same food prep counter, complete the making of the sandwich, and then drop it into the food chute for access by the front counter crew to pull the order together.
Also, in the back, there would often be the walk-in freezer and refrigeration rooms. This is where the product would be stored for 2-14 days of work and it was easily available for the back end crew. If it was a high-volume operation, there would be more temperature-controlled storage outside in a locked small shed-sized building.
And, usually in the extreme back side would be a tiny office. Rolling racks of sandwich buns are in various places. Also, there would be strategically placed stainless steel wire shelving units for dry goods and non-refrigerated foods storage.
The front end crew took care of the front counter, the drive-thru window, and today’s kiosk and app orders. The front crew was responsible also for preparing the drinks and certain sides. The equipment for dispensing drinks, ice makers, ice cream, and refrigerated items was usually up front. However, with some scenarios, the ice maker might be in the far back, and it would have to be transported manually to the front where they used the cheaper ice bins which only stored ice for dispensing. This did not save steps, however, it did reduce equipment cost and electricity utility costs.
In the front, that crew would deal with the initial taking of an order from the customer, process the money transaction, and then turn around and yell to the back end what was needed for them to make. Then, the back end person would repeat back what they heard, as a means of quality control for service. Then, both the back end and the front end would begin to fulfill that order. So, since the front would be the final side of finishing an order, the short-term storage for packaging items, like bags, cups, lids, condiment packets, and straws were often up front, with the bulk stock being stored in the back.
Eventually, microphones were added, as the industry learned two things. First, the customers thought this was outlandish and didn’t like it. Second, it helped in improving order fulfillment accuracies as the audio was clearer. Ultimately, of course, computers replaced the yelling, and monitors of orders were placed for the front and back end people to use for managing pending and fulfilled orders.
While the back was making the hot items, the front would make the cold items such as the drinks. Most of the time, if the food wasn’t made ahead of time (which is often the case even today), the front tends to wait for the sandwiches and fries to be produced. While waiting, this is when the front end person might be knowingly tasked to refill items from back storage to the front storage like cups or napkins. Or, to make more coffee, for example.
When ready from the back, the front end crew person would pull the produced items from the food chutes such as the sandwiches and fries. The front end person would then hand the completed order to that person. Normally, the front end is balancing several orders in a row.
Usually the front end crew would be responsible for changing out the soft drink tanks and sometimes they might ask for help with those from a back end person.
Gender Work Positions
Not until around the mid-1980s, did the Draconian practice of gender roles begin to make a change. Before that time, you would typically see only males in the back end (cooks) and females at the front end (cashiers).
I recall in the 1970s we followed the same practice when I was managing a fast food pilot restaurant for my brother and Frostie Enterprises (the root beer company). The theme was hamburgers, dogs, and root beer in a frosted mug.
One day the weather was cold and rainy and business was very slow. We had already sent some people home due to slow activity. The female cashiers in the front and the guys cooking in the back approached me about swapping their roles for the day. They knew I was always open for suggestions for change for improvements. Their interest was more towards changing things up and gaining new experiences.
My take was more on the managerial idea of this would be a good chance for cross-training and low impact on service. It would also be good for future times if someone calls in sick, the odds would improved of having someone to fill that skillset. Also, as a manager, I was aware they wanted to try it out for some excitement of learning something different, and this was another way to improved employee morale. So, we went for it.
It worked out perfectly and the staff thoroughly enjoyed helping each other in their training of new skills. They jokingly harassed each other demanding for faster production and service, while learning their new skills. At the end of the shifts, they thoroughly enjoyed it, and they had a much better appreciation also of each others’ jobs.
Oh, and the customers jaws dropped open all day long when they entered the restaurant as they had never seen males at a fast food cash register before and females cooking in the back. The customers thought that was most amazing. Who knows, maybe that’s where the idea in the 80s came from. Well, maybe not, but who knows what seeds were planted for our future growth as a civilization.
We covered a glimpse into the historical evolution of how management of factories spilled over into fast food productivity. We looked at a list of fast food niches and reviewed a bit of a hot dog niche. We then finalized with an example of gender roles in the 1970s. I hope you enjoyed this segment and look forward to the next one. In the meantime, visit “Eat This, Not That” for interesting food related nutrition and health. Regarding the history of the fast food industry, here’s an article from them “100 Shocking Facts About Fast Food You Never Knew“.
American History Fast Food, as a topic, is directly tied to our decision-making regarding meal consumption more consciously. Briefly learning the qualitative history of the fast food industry will illustrate how it goes well beyond clever marketing ads.
We routinely make the classic consumer decision of “make-or-buy” each meal, several times a day. More often than not, we make these decisions subconsciously. Some of those decisions are made due to marketing but also due to other non-marketing methods, as you’ll read in this article. Our dining-out, carry-out, drive-thru, or eating-in decisions are impacted due to some important unknowns about the food and beverages industry that will be explained here.
I will emphasize specifically the fast food industry, using a qualitative approach, and its ties to our human behavior in making decisions.
Why read about the history of the fast food industry?
With making multiple daily decisions regarding meals, we decide repeatedly where and how to obtain them. With the added knowledge of this history, you’ll be more empowered to make significantly improved decisions regarding dining-out, carry-out, or eating-in. You’ll be more likely to make those meal planning decisions consciously. This is because you’ll be more aware of the various business methods utilized that sway your thinking away from making your own.
As an added note, to maintain the strength of the qualitative role and to avoid incorrect or unintended perceptions of companies, brand names will generally be omitted.
History of Fast Food in America
To understand the fast food history in America, we must review its early attempts and when it took a strong foothold, along with its reasons.
History of the Fast Food Industry
There were early attempts since the mid 1800s but widespread success of the fast food industry took a solid hold in the 1950s. What changed that secured the fast food industry to have a foothold and gave it such popularity?
As America began to hit a rapid growth period after World War II, the industrial age continued growing and focusing on improving productivity at work. Using an assembly line was one example of improving productivity at work. Here’s an article along this topic that answers the related question of What does Henry Ford and McDonalds have in common?
People wanted to become more productive at home as well, but for different reasons than at work. With the depression and two World Wars in the prior 20 years, people of the late 1940s wanted stability and the industrial revolution provided a large shift towards that focus. The desire for manufactured things increased due to powerful marketing methods.
Why Fast Food is so Popular
What changed that secured the fast food industry to have a foothold and gave it such popularity? Basically everyone wanted to save more time and get more done. But, the reasons and methods used to fulfill these desires were very different at home compared to at work. It was a culmination of several reasons that finally set the industry on its rapid growth track. Here are some of them:
How Fast Food Started
Since eating was the one thing that everyone did, it seemed that making meals became recognized as a hindrance of time usage, multiple times each day.
The workforce was shifting again and was adding more women, the former key role of preparing meals at home. Saving time for meal preparation became a more significant necessity.
Prepackaged foods at the grocery store such as deli ham for sandwiches became more commonplace. This suggested that simple, thin slices of meat for a sandwich was accepted instead of a carved slice of thick ham at home.
Food additives empowered foods businesses to experience less spoilage losses. More reliable heavy equipment such as walk-in freezers helped inventories and volume. Several of these types of factors stabilized fast food restaurants to be able to handle both slow days and rushes. So, the reputation and reliability improved.
This industry has a significant role in balancing our lives in its efforts and methods to satisfy its markets’ defined needs. Fast Food discovered new methods of marketing to apply. With restaurants still being one of the higher business failure rates, it often required a lot of marketing strength to succeed. We’ll now review a few of those methods.
Fast Food Location Strategy
The phrase that “Location is everything” is extremely true for a fast food location strategy. Once a restaurant chain would begin to grow during expansion, the importance of identifying a specific new additional location in a city became recognized as a valid requirement. So, performing an extensive marketing analysis was extremely important. It helped reduce business losses and failures and it directly impacted maximizing sales and profits.
If a restaurant niche involved college youth, families, or upscale, the demographics was key to initial success. Also, learning the city planning was important for understanding its long-term potential for continued success. Here are some examples of new locations-related situations that led to later business issues.
Location Strategy Examples
During design, it was assumed that an entry point would be on one side of the building and an entry/exit point would happen on the other side. Around when construction was to begin, the city wouldn’t approve two entry points because of high traffic accidents at that corner. It allowed only one. Since the business was already far beyond a turning back point, it opened and experienced a lower market base because it lost the added entry point coming from the heavier traffic side.
An extremely popular fast food chain was expanding rapidly across the country. In time, it discovered that a fast growing competitor was also putting up stores across the street or nearby within about a year of opening. After a few years of that, it was discovered that the “younger” competitor was saving the high expense not needing a marketing study in a clever way. Since the initial, highly successful chain store had made the expensive, in-depth marketing analysis already, the competitor felt they didn’t have to do one. The solution later was to work closer with the city planners and try to work in some restrictions of having the same types of business near their planned new store. This same principal is also applied to shopping centers and strip malls.
A fast food restaurant had just opened up and was doing well. It was next to a small strip center which then had a new “pool hall & bar” small business open up. Over time, the environment nearby was considered unsightly and the adjacent customers at night were keeping the restaurant sales lower than usual. So, in the future, some chains chose to enhance their marketing studies to be further distanced from certain buildings, or they would ensure they would have a larger land area to give the customers’ a subconscious feeling of being distantly separated.
This is the more common topic known and recognized in business. In the earlier years, it would typically be via TV, radio, billboards, newspapers, and magazines. Ads in magazines could be purchased with an added feature to be positioned alongside another complementary ad. For example, an ad for a smoothie might be placed adjacent to a health gym ad.
Or, a coffee shop ad might be placed next to a college ad. The idea is that the ads are related to having the same consumer target base. Ads would also be placed in articles that could relate to or tie in with the subject matter.
Today, of course, it’s shifted further from print and gone towards online media options. Regardless, an ad is still an ad. Today, the appearance of a particular online ad can be automated to adapt its actual content to be more aligned with the user and profile. If the user is logged in to a site compared to browsing as a site guest, the advertising methods will vary. Because being logged in will enable a more direct approach to content coverage specifically for the user, many online locations will strongly want you to create an account.
That’s why many sites will limit your exploration until you get an account and logon. This is another example of being conscious of what’s being shown to you. And that also includes news articles, which are also geared to focus on news that keeps you tied into topics and views that relate to what you’ve viewed historically. When you’re engrossed in reading a news article that was displayed to you, you might also encounter a food ad that’s tied to your news topics of interest. It’s all about profiles data. Again, just be conscious of these matters.
Ads are becoming more aligned with how we already think and eat, as opposed to being exposed to our own individual decisions for different choices. So, in seeing a fast food ad which triggers you to make a change, maybe you could partially control that changed decisions and have a hybrid fast food meal. An example is to grab fast food sandwiches on the way home and skip the drinks. But prepare your own soft drinks after getting home. That also saves some money over time.
The need for marketing data used to focus on gathering demographics. Today, it’s a combination of buying that data, along with using AI (artificial intelligence) to automate which ad will appear to a consumer when online.
When driving, if your GPS has your accumulated travel history, it will know when you’ve pulled over to certain business food locations and can tie to your profile. So, when using GPS apps, paid fast food ads similar to where you’ve eaten in the past, might appear between 10 AM through 1 PM. You might also see some lunch locations appear on the app as you’re approaching them. Since it’s around that hungry time, and you see the ad, there will be a higher tendency to take advantage of it. It will be convenient, will save time, and (most importantly) will match your previous tracked historical behavior.
The idea here is to be conscious of triggers caused by food ads. Try to recollect what your original lunch plan was. It might be that you brought lunch and it’s back at work or, you were going to skip lunch today and take off earlier. GPS food ads are triggers for quick response and immediate changes. You can be conscious of your decisions and change them on your terms with repeated awareness over time.
Hang on to this article’s link, as we’ll update it with a link to Part 2, 3, … right here.
Here’s what we’ll be covering in future segment articles:
Marketing to the Primary Customer Base and how it evolved
Origin of the Drive-thru
Salad bar to breakfast bar to food bar
Building and seating designs
Color themes related to our behaviors
Food niches on food types
This has been Part 1 of planned upcoming article segments to further record some qualitative historical aspects of the fast food industry. I hope you enjoyed reviewing the contents of this article whether it’s for research needs or just plain personal or professional interest.
Visit here to see some Featured Recipes that focus on being Speedy, Easy, and Tasty.
For other resources and interesting things regarding the history of the fast food industry, click here.
Here is your complete meal plan for having a brief guide involving grilling hamburgers and hot dogs at the same time. You’ll be busy managing the time and temperature of two different meat items so, it’s a good idea to go over the brief plan first. We also have included 2 links in this article to give further grilling details individually to hamburgers and hot dogs. And, as a bonus, some links for some popular sides recipes are also included.
Make your hamburger patties in advance. You can put them on a plate or platter and optionally separate them with waxed paper or patty papers, if you have them.
Get Hot Dogs Ready
If your hot dogs are frozen, you can thaw them a bit in the microwave. Or, run them over some hot tap water until they can bend or flex a bit. This doesn’t take long because hot dogs are somewhat porous.
Prepare the Toppings and Organize the Condiments
You’ll definitely want to go ahead and slice any onions and prep any lettuce leaves or cutup lettuce. And any other toppings to be readied. Then, put them in the fridge, ready to be pulled out easily when nearing grilling completion time. Also, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got the condiments available (e.g., ready to replace near empty ones).
PREP the GRILL
If using charcoal, arrange it for these two different heating areas so that you’ll have part of your grill directly over coals (for direct heat) and part of it not over any coals (for indirect heat).
Begin to preheat your grill now, if using a charcoal or wood source. For fast starting grills like gas, you can wait until just a couple of minutes before being ready with the burger patties and hot dogs.
When using a gas or electric grill, you have a lot more flexibility on direct and indirect heat because you can control the direct heat rapidly.
PREP the Sides
You’ll want to have your sides already thought out and ready. Or, someone else might be prepping them while you’re grilling.
What to Serve with Grilled Burgers and Hot Dogs
What goes with hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill? The way you can be sure is to first think of sides you would like with just grilled hot dogs. Then, think of sides that would do well with just burgers. Then, the side dishes you thought of for both meat items are what will go excellent with both burgers and dogs.
Here are some popular recipes of sides for burgers and dogs together.
GRILLING Hamburgers and Hot Dogs
Which goes on the grill first? The burger or the hot dog?
And the answer is “It depends”. It kind of doesn’t matter but you’ll need to know how to manage both items if you’re limited on direct heat space you might have. So, now is a good time to look at the next item of how to grill both items together.
How to Grill Hamburgers and Hot Dogs at the Same Time
Grilling Hamburgers takes about 8-17 minutes. Grilling Hot Dogs takes about 5-10 minutes. So, you can coordinate both based on your following options regarding how much direct heat grill space you have.
Grilling With Limited Direct Heat Space
If you’re limited on direct heat space and can’t grill both hamburgers and hot dogs at the same time over direct heat then, here are some options:
Option 1: Grill the hot dogs on direct heat, rolling about every 15-30 seconds for about 3-4 minutes. Then, move them to indirect heat and continue to turn by rolling once every 2-3 minutes. Cook your burgers on direct heat and manage as needed.
Option 2: Put the hot dogs on indirect heat, rolling once every 2 minutes. Grill the hamburgers on direct heat until done. Move the burgers to indirect heat and finish out the hot dogs on direct heat, turning by rolling every 15-30 seconds.
Grilling With Plenty of Direct Heat Space
If you aren’t limited on direct heat and can grill both hamburgers and hot dogs at the same time, here is an option.
Option 1: Put both hamburgers and hot dogs on at the same time. Roll the hot dogs about every 15-30 seconds. Either about when your burgers are ready to be flipped or shortly after they are, your hot dogs might be done. When your hot dogs are done, move them to indirect heat and finish your burgers.
Option 2: Put hamburgers on the grill first. After about 2-3 minutes, put the hot dogs on. Roll the hot dogs about every 15-30 seconds. This timing is about right for both burgers and dogs to be done at the same time. However, if one is done first, just set the finished meat aside onto an indirect heat area.
What Temperature do you grill hamburgers and hot dogs?
Hamburgers can be grilled roughly between 375-450°F. Hot Dogs can be grilled between 300-400°F. Both can be grilled a bit higher but only if tightly managed.
Tips for grilling hot dogs and hamburgers
How to grill hot dogs the right way
Ok; so there are actually several right ways. That’s because some people want their dogs charred more or less than others. And some don’t want any grill marks on them. So, if you can handle the stress and timing of multiple ways of cooking them, here you are.
For minimal grill marks or blackening, you’ll need to cook them on indirect heat only and ensure the temp is around 300-350°F max. And roll them once about every 15-30 seconds.
For common grilling and charbroiled appearance and taste, you can cook them alongside the burgers but you don’t leave them on direct heat longer than usually 3-4 minutes. AND, you do need to turn them by rolling very often, about once every 15-30 seconds.
An alternate method is to grill them on direct heat, rolling every 15-30 seconds, for a total of about 2 minutes. Then, cook them the rest of the way to your desired level on indirect heat, rolling them every 2-3 minutes.
How to make grilled burgers juicy
The tips to getting a grilled hamburger juicy are several. One idea is that you never mash or press down on them while on the grill. Others say you can do it just once. Most will agree that when you remove them from the grill, you don’t cut into them and you let them sit for at least 5 minutes before letting anyone use them to make their sandwich.
Announce the Grilling ETA
Yes, it’s always a good idea to alert others who are helping (or consuming) what your Estimated Time of Arrival is for the final Grilled Burgers and Hot Dogs. It’s good etiquette and it gives everyone a chance to get ready. It also announces a good timing for the toppings and condiments to be taken out of the fridge and laid out.
Details of a Grilled Hamburger Recipe and a Grilled Hot Dog Recipe
As promised, here are links to 2 detailed grilling recipes for burgers and hot dogs. They have a lot of information about some good practices, temperatures, and times. And, we added in a Brats grilling recipe as well, in case you’re having that instead of hot dogs, as some people do.
SERVING and PRESENTATION
How to keep grilled burgers warm
You can keep grilled burgers warm by setting them aside on indirect heat on the grill if you’re waiting for hot dogs to cook. Another option is to wrap them in foil and be left on the warm side of the grill, avoiding the hot, direct heat side. You can also put them on the warming shelf, if your grill has that option. And still others will wrap them in foil and keep them in a warm preheated oven at 225°F. Here’s an EHow article on this subject.
Warming or Toasting Buns
Optionally, you can warm some of the buns using the grill, microwave, stove top, or oven. This adds an unbelievably good taste to your sandwiches. Putting a very thin slice of butter (and just a pinch of garlic powder) on them adds even more to the entire flavor.
Presentation for Self-Serving
If you choose to enhance the presentable appearance of anything, you can do it easily with the following examples. Sometimes I use one or more of these techniques; sometimes, I do none of them.
You can have a stack of plates and silverware readied on a table or countertop. Next to them, you can have the toppings and condiments readied, just like a buffet line.
You can place all the toppings onto platters for a good display and for easy grabbing to build a sandwich. Or, you can leave the toppings (arranged) on the cutting board, which still looks good.
You can open a mayo jar and place the lid upside down and use it as a spoon or knife rest for self-serving. You can do the same thing with a pickle jar and use a fork to rest on its own lid.
As crazy as it sounds, you can lay the burgers and hot dogs on a bed of full lettuce leaves on a platter. This is sometimes done in hotels for business dinner buffets. When dinner’s done, you can then rinse the lettuce leaves, and use them the next day in a salad to prevent waste.
STORAGE and LEFTOVERS
Food Safety for Leftovers
How long have the hamburgers and hot dogs been off the grill and left out for self-serving? This is probably the number 1 concern of food safety in the home. It’s when dinner has been cooked and removed from any heat. It sometimes feels like a Catch-22 as to know how long to leave out the meat or when to put it away in the fridge as leftovers. It easily becomes an issue if they’re left out like that for an hour or more. The ill effects are felt on the next use of those as leftovers.
So, here’s a food safety tip. Usually, within a half hour after coming off the grill and people started making their sandwiches, they will have already retrieved any “second helpings” of any meat. You can ask around and let others know you’re going to put them in the fridge if they want any more.
Storing Leftovers in Freezer or Fridge
While you may put your leftover burgers and hot dogs in the fridge initially, you can put any items in the freezer on the same evening as they were grilled. If handled and stored properly, you can usually keep them in the fridge for 2-3 days or 2-3 months in the freezer. Here is a USDA article on this subject.
I hope this helps you coordinate these two popular grilling items and gives you some more ideas or tips on planning them out. Tell me your thoughts by submitting a comment. I’m very interested in what others do when they grill these 2 items!
While there are a few ways of how to cut a cantaloupe properly, we inherently focus on ways to emphasize the least amount of steps and to encourage safety with the knife.
Your end result will be either to have one cantaloupe section per person and the other cutting method ends up with a bowl of bite-sized pieces to dish out servings (or for use in a fruit salad). These steps will show you both ways so you’ll know how to cut a cantaloupe easy.
The good thing is you start with making the individual sections for the first way and then you continue from there to make the bite-sized pieces for the second way. Let’s begin.
The Best Way to Cut a Cantaloupe for Individual Sections
This is how to cut a cantaloupe into slices or sections. Normally, you’ll want about 4 to 8 sections per cantaloupe half. That’s 8 to 16 sliced sections per cantaloupe. Here are your steps to achieve that.
Step 1. Rinse off the outer surface of the cantaloupe before cutting. Then, place the cantaloupe on a cutting surface. Using a large knife, cut the cantaloupe completely in half, lengthwise, i.e., cutting along the longest middle length. Then, rinse off the cutting knife.
Step 2. Under running water, using a spoon (or your fingers), scoop out the insides (seeds and innards), minimizing the removal of the actual cantaloupe.
Step 3. Cut each half in half. Repeat until you have the sizes of serving sections you want to serve. Usually, it is about 4 to 8 sections per cantaloupe half. This gives you about 8 to 16 sections per an entire cantaloupe.
The Best Way to Cut a Cantaloupe for Bite-Sized Pieces or Cubes
The best way on how to cut a cantaloupe into chunks or bite-sized pieces is to follow the previous steps to result in the larger sections of about 4 sections per cantaloupe half, or a total of 8 sections per cantaloupe. Then, proceed with these continued steps to cut them down into the desired pieces.
Step 1. With each cantaloupe section, cut a deep slit (end to end) down the middle. Ensure you cut down deep and stop only when you reach the rind, from one end to the other.
Step 2. Perform cross-sectional cuts across each cantaloupe section. You’ll begin to see how these cuts will determine the size of each chunk. It’s here that you can alter it to make them very large cubes or smaller bite-sized pieces. For the smaller pieces, you can strive for about 1/3 to 1/2-inch cuts.
Step 3. Finally, you’ll slice along the bottom edge of each cantaloupe section. You can hold the cantaloupe section’s rind bottom during this process but use caution not to cut yourself. For safety, I hold one end and slice only to its middle; then, I turn the cantaloupe section 180 degrees to hold the other end and slice that other half to stop in the middle. After each section is done, discard the rind and place the cantaloupe pieces into a bowl to keep the cutting surface cleared for the next section to be sliced. You now have a bowl of cantaloupe pieces for servings or usage in a salad recipe.
Recipe for Cantaloupe Salad
Here’s a popular recipe for cantaloupe salad. It uses cantaloupe chunks as described on how to cut above. It’s extremely fast and easy to make and uses common kitchen ingredients. It also has lists of additional ingredients that can be added to make a more hearty cantaloupe salad.
FAQ on Cantaloupes
How long does a cantaloupe last in the fridge after it’s cut open?
This is how to cut and store cantaloupe. With proper refrigeration, it can last 3 to 5 days, according to various sources. If cut up into the smaller pieces, it’s best to plan to discard it after 3 days. If you’re trying to preserve an entire half of a cantaloupe, i.e., not cut into sections nor pieces, it can last up to 5 days if tightly sealed. However, for any orange cantaloupe cuts of sizes, it’s best to discard it if a white appearance or whitish foam starts to form.
What are some common ways of how to cut and serve cantaloupe?
It’s served often as sectional slices or bite-sized pieces by themselves. Sometimes, the sectional slices are also served with the rind cut away. It can also be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream served over it. More on the recipe side, it’s often served as a member of a fruit salad or as a cantaloupe salad where it’s the star ingredient. For presentation, it’s sometimes served as cubed bite-sized chunks on top of a lettuce leaf, and possibly a small scoop of cottage cheese alongside it.
Where does the name “Cantaloupe” come from?
The orange cantaloupe is named after a small town close to Rome in Italy. That town is named “Cantalupa”. And it’s known for its sweet, orange melons.
What’s the difference between the honeydew melon and the cantaloupe?
The University of Arkansas explains it best here. Regarding flavor and texture, it references the honeydew melon as being green, sweeter, and with a firmer flesh texture when eaten.
Tell me more about the Cantaloupe.
Wikipedia does an excellent job of that here. It covers everything from its origins and variations, as well as its nutritional values.
You’ve chosen or are considering to use Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes out of the 6 most popular fuel sources for cooking outdoors: pellets, wood, electric, gas, charcoal briquettes, and lump charcoal. So, if you’re just thinking about it, read the article designed to assist you in making or changing decisions behind each kind of grill, which dictates your heat source. Read “Best BBQ Grills“.
If remaining with a charcoal decision, read further below about questions and answers about lump charcoal but also has some comparing and referencing to briquettes. And also enjoy to know that the link(s) to reviews are for different kinds and brands. And, mixed throughout, are some great tips and guidance regarding lump or regular charcoal usage. We begin with a popular grill brand example of the Weber Charcoal Grills line and some individual charcoal related functions behind some of them. Other grills and types such as Kamado are referenced in the Best BBQ Grills article. We just start off the charcoal reference with an extremely popular line of grills.
They tend to be affordable and offer a wide range of prices with varying features and functions.
When considering charcoal, might want one that can be readily refilled during the cooking process. Lump charcoal will generally last shorter and will need refilling more often but usually only if the lumps are not large. With large lumps, refilling becomes less often. Also, not all grills have an opening for refilling charcoal. You can look for a panel front door or the grate itself might have a lift-able section for dumping in some additional charcoal.
Auto-Igniter and Charcoal Basket Trays
Some Weber grills will have an auto-ignitor built-in and it feeds from a small disposable screw-on propane gas canister. You have to let it run for about 5 minutes and then you turn it off, close the lid, and wait another 15-30 minutes for all the charcoal to light. The advantage is you can still use a cylindrical charcoal starter but you don’t need any paper or fuel briquette starters. The usual option is the popular use of a Chimney Charcoal Starter, which many still use regardless. Some who have the auto-ignitor will use for placing their Chimney Starter right over it to ignite the charcoal that way.
Another advantage is, those grills often come with their own charcoal basket trays that you can position right over the self-igniter so you won’t even need to use the cylindrical charcoal starter anymore. And some of the nicer Weber grills also have a Charcoal storage bin on the side, which holds up to a 15-lb bag. In the respect of storing lump charcoal, a plastic bag lining can be used and then the lump charcoal dumped into it.
Grill Lid Holder
Some round Weber grills will have a spot for you to place the Grill Cover each time you remove it. That makes it extremely handy for either short term removal or longer term when you’re watching burgers or steaks closely. It’s also good because you don’t have to set it on the ground or you don’t have to always have an empty spot on a side table that probably can’t handle the hot lid anyway.
Using a round Weber grill is not different than other grills in the sense that you’ll need to learn how the various vents work to control the temperature and air flow. Vents on the round Weber grills are commonly on one or both of these 2 areas: the lid and the base.
Ash Removal – Ash Catcher
Ash removal is always a pain. However, Weber does make some grill models with a removable ash catcher. And still other models, have a “One-Touch Cleaning” system, which is a set of 3 blades resembling a 3-prong propellor on a plane. This is where you repeat the open-and-closing of the base vent as those 3 small bladed arms sweep the base ashes into the available vent slots that lead into the ash catcher pot underneath. It’s extremely handy.
The advantage here with lump charcoal is that you won’t have to empty the ash bucket out nearly as often as from briquettes ash. With briquettes, you might go through about 20 lbs. and you need to empty it. With lump, you might have to go through 50-60 lbs. before emptying. Overall, it’s about 1/2 – 1/3 the amount of ash production using lump charcoal.
How much lump charcoal to use vs briquettes
Charcoal usage will vary depending on how much and what you’re about to grill. It also depends on how long you need to keep the grill going during your cooking session. Ribs, for example, take the full duration of your charcoal briquettes so you’ll want extra to be sure. Burgers cook real fast but if you’re filling the grill surface area, you’ll need a lot there too. Here’s a ball park idea of how much charcoal to use. While it references briquettes or chimney starter quantities, you’ll need to equate that to the type of lump charcoal you use since those sizes vary extremely. Most cooking sessions for the average person will tend toward full or half full of grill space being used. With this knowledge, you can easily adjust lower for less than half grill space used.
How many charcoal briquettes to use
Full Grill Space Usage
The average grill might take about 100 briquettes or 1 full chimney starter.
Good for about 12-15 burgers at a time and good for 2-3 sets.
Good for about 6-8 steaks for 2 sets.
Good for about 12 pork chops and good for 2-3 sets.
Good for about 12-20 pieces of chicken.
Rotisserie style cooking will require a full amount of charcoal but divided in a split style arrangement where the center is empty of charcoal and the drip pan is used there. The sides will be heavy with 1/2 grill’s worth of charcoal on each side. You might have to refill charcoal in this setup. Split style cooking is also sometimes used for shish kabobs or ribs.
Half Grill Space Usage
The average grill might take about 50-75 briquettes or 1/2-3/4 full chimney starter.
Good for about 6-10 burgers at a time and good for 2 sets
Good for ribs on indirect heat. You’ll need about 75 or 3/4 full chimney starter.
Good for about 8 pieces of chicken.
Can Charcoal get wet?
If it gets wet, the cheaper charcoal will sometimes just crumble and is not usable. However, depending on how wet it gets, it still might be salvageable. It will usually not burn as hot and it will smoke more. Plus, the smoke will be a bit different in color and it will be a little harder to light. To try to salvage, one option is to mix it in with some regular charcoal that hasn’t been exposed to the water.
How long until charcoal is ready?
How to know when lump charcoal is ready
Lump Charcoal can be ready after lighting, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. If using a charcoal chimney starter, it usually is about 10-15 minutes, depending on what igniting method you used.
When Using a Gas Igniter
With a built-in propane gas igniter (like Weber’s) that you leave on, it takes about 10-12 minutes total time. Replacement canisters are often going to be far cheaper to buy locally, e.g., via your big box store, instead of online due to shipping and packing requirements for propane under pressure.
With briquettes, usually a gas igniter is intended to only get the charcoal minimally started (from a 5-minute period) and then you turn off the gas igniter, close the grill’s lid, and wait another 30 minutes for it to “catch” more fully for a total duration of about 35 minutes.
Lump charcoal only needs about 5 minutes with an igniter (at the bottom) and then about 10 minutes wait time after that for the rest of the charcoal to catch.
When Using Fuel
If you’re using a fuel to dispense across the charcoal (which is normally not used on lump charcoal), you usually dispense the fuel and wait about 30 seconds to 1 minute for it to be absorbed. Then, after lighting, it’s about a 5-10-minute wait. It’s best to follow the directions on the fuel-based starting methods.
Charcoal that is self-igniting (has fuel in it) can go bad in the sense of the self-igniting function after about 3 months. Other charcoals that have additives can lose their potency depending on what was added. Charcoal overall, however, does not go bad as long as it’s not exposed to moisture. So, in a sense, it might take a few years but eventually could go bad over gradual exposure to light moisture in the air. I’ve had charcoal outdoors stored in a plastic storage bin, not moisture-proof but the bag closed up, and it lasts easily to the following year without any noticed difference. And, I’ve burned a bag of charcoal discovered in a garage after 3 years with the same result.
Does Lump Charcoal Go Bad?
If kept away from moisture, it will be just fine. You can read above question about “Can Charcoal Go Bad?” for further details.
Grilling Vegetables Charcoal
You can cook some larger vegetables on a charcoal grill without anything special. Those items might be like corn on the cob and baking potatoes. However, for common vegetables prepped in pieces, you’ll need a container like a pan or skillet and preferably one that has perforated holes. When cooking using lump charcoal, you’ll want to watch the temperature closer as it burns hotter. However, you can use indirect heat or better use of your vents for managing this type of cooking.
Is Lump Charcoal Better?
It has its pros and cons like other grill heat sources and here they are.
The Pros of Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes
It burns hotter
It often is easier to light
It produces about 1/3 of the equivalent to briquettes ash.
The flavor of food is considered by some to be better, compared to briquettes.
Contains no additives
The Cons of Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes
The number one con is that it costs more, and often a lot more.
It’s much dirtier.
It burns faster.
It’s harder to handle and dispense due to irregular shapes and sizes of its contents.
Many of the brands sold have a huge disparity in differences of effectiveness and quality.
Timings of refilling for long term cooking or smoking are inconsistent due to variety of sizes of lumps
Although not a technical con, it can impact your purchasing power and your cooking effectiveness if you’ve received an inferior product. Because of the high cost, there is a high level of scams claiming their lumps will burn longer or having a higher percentage of larger chunks. And, it even happens with branded products if their quality levels have gone down or, if their producer (in another country) has made some changes. I’ve seen some reviews even of some alleged popular brands are potentially a fake knockoff and not from an ethical reseller.
Lump Charcoal for Smoking
Is Lump Charcoal Good for Smoking?
Yes, if it satisfies two key requirements, which one of them is dependent on the other. Let me explain.
1) First off, you can use any charcoal for smoking as long as it will last the length of the intending smoking session. That’s the primary requirement. Lump charcoal burns hotter and faster so you’ll want to learn the proper venting to manage the air flow and temp. Also, the sizes of the lumps are an impact to its duration between refills so, that’s our next item.
2) So, the second part of the equation is the dependent item. In order for the charcoal to last long enough, it will be dependent on its size of the lumps overall. However, even the large lump charcoal bags will have a percentage of medium and small lumps. So, that’s why you’ll want to read reviews of those who mention an excessive or low amount of small pieces, which is often professionally rated as a percentage of a bag. If you are planning on smoking a lot, you’ll pay more to get a higher percentage of large lumps per bag. It’s also a reason that some people will resort to getting a smoker that allows wood burning because obtaining wood in certain sizes is much easier to manage on the manufacturing side of things.
So, in summary, you have to manage its heating properties as it will burn hotter (usually) than charcoal briquettes. And, you’ll need to manage the refilling processes as most lump charcoal comes in varying shapes and sizes. Also, it burns faster. So, if you’re filling the smoker and you notice a particular batch has a lot of smaller lumps, you’ll need to schedule to return sooner as that batch won’t last as long.
If you’re trying to replace using wood, getting a lump charcoal made from a hardwood is the best way to get closest to actual wood. Also, it’s been recommended to just put some burning lump coals on the top of the fresh charcoal bed and allow it to naturally light the lumps under it. Having a longer burn life would be of interest to those deciding on using it in their smoker.
Lump Charcoal Burn Time
Lump charcoal vs briquettes burn time varies significantly across the different brands and types of lump charcoal. However, if you equate with the same size of lumps with briquettes, overall the burn time is about 15-30% quicker with lump. However, I have experienced times where it appears the same. I have also experienced lump charcoal lasting longer when using large chunks. Again, it depends on brands, sizes, and types of briquettes as well as the lump you’re comparing.
Does lump charcoal require lighter fluid?
No; it does not. Lump charcoal can be lit just like charcoal briquettes but without lighter fluid. And, coincidentally, lump charcoal lights easier (usually) and burns hotter than briquettes. Also, the natural aspect of no additives to lump charcoal is another reason to avoid adding a fuel.
What are some ideas for buying lump charcoal on Amazon?
This article answers trending questions regarding BBQ Sauces. It covers popular brands, recipes for homemade, storage time, freezing, ingredients, enhancements, and more. Have a question or comment? Send it in via the comment section below.
What are the top main types of BBQ Sauce?
Although some will list about 4 to 12 or more, the top “tier” of types of barbecue sauces are 2. There are tomato-based and vinegar-based BBQ Sauces. Some will add-in mustard-based BBQ sauces but those are merely vinegar-based as well. Others will convey there are some specific geographical types such as Carolina, Texas, Memphis, etc. But, the top tier of 2 types (tomato and vinegar) remains as the standard and the geographical locations will merely have their regional versions of those 2 types.
Usually, people will trend towards one of those 2 types of barbecue sauces without being aware. Geographically, as an example, people in the Midwest will lean more towards tomato-based BBQ Sauces. While, people in the South will focus on the vinegar-based BBQ Sauces. However, both types are worldwide favorites, as this is a matter of personal preference, and often is based on what was given most frequently when growing up. As we are given choices, some will then be exposed to a variety and our tastes change. There are also some foreign sauces that equate to their acceptance as a “BBQ sauce”. One example is Korean BBQ Beef (or Pork). They use a soy sauce based marinade and adopted a similar reference to our BBQ sauce as they also sometimes brush it on during grilling.
Does BBQ Sauce need to be refrigerated?
If it’s tomato-based, yes. If it only contains vinegar and dried spices, generally not. Because of all the different ingredients in BBQ Sauces, you have to know the contents. If any of the contents would normally require refrigeration (after being opened), then it’s recommended strongly to refrigerate it. Typically, vinegar does not require refrigeration; however, some Balsamic vinegars recommend refrigeration. Sometimes, refrigeration of a vinegar-based BBQ sauce is recommend for food safety and other times, it’s recommended for food quality reasons. If the BBQ Sauce contents include vinegar and a tomato-based ingredient, you should refrigerate it due to the tomato related ingredient. It’s always a best practice to refrigerate it if you’re unsure.
What goes good with BBQ sauce you can put it on?
Here are some of the more popular food items that people enjoy with BBQ sauce: Ribs, Pulled Pork, Chicken, Wings, Brisket, Hamburgers, and Pork Tenderloin. And here are some others: Meatloaf, Salmon, Pizza, Steak, Sloppy Joes, Hot Dogs, Chili, and Kielbasa.
Can BBQ sauce go bad?
Yes. It generally will last only as long as the shortest life ingredient. That will usually be the tomato-based ingredient, if it’s that type of sauce. So, it would last possibly as long as tomato sauce or ketchup would (opened). However, the ones that last the longest will be the vinegar-based BBQ sauces. They tend to last as long as something like mustard or pickles but they possibly can also last much longer. However, as all food items, they can still acquire some mold on the surface as an indicator. BBQ sauces with sweeteners like brown sugar or honey can accumulate some molding over time. Even some vinegar-based BBQ sauces also but, far less frequently. Store bought BBQ sauces will often have some preservatives to extend the life.
What is Carolina BBQ Sauce?
Carolina BBQ Sauce is a term of a regional BBQ sauce that began in South Carolina and migrated into North Carolina as a different type of BBQ sauce. Both are far less sweet than tomato-based BBQ sauces and both contain mustard as a key ingredient. Both states also have their own, specific named sauces. This is an example of a Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce recipe.
We did a lot of research and study of customer reviews and what interests people prefer the most on features. Sometimes, people desire an additional work surface so they can easily place their food or prep items on it and, for example, brush on the BBQ sauce conveniently. Related Grill FAQs and how to choose one are covered here in the article regarding the best grills.
What can you add to barbecue sauce?
Here are the most popular additions to BBQ sauces, either tomato-base or vinegar-based. These BBQ sauce additives are: mustard, onion powder, brown sugar, and honey. See Add to BBQ Sauce for adding the correct amounts of each.
What are some BBQ Sauce related accessories and ideas?
Here are some that are shown from Amazon (affiliate links).