The new mills and factories were soon producing all the wood parts needed, but there was a great deal of wood scrap and saw dust left over. Mr. Ford abhorred waste, so applying an invention of Orin Stafford (a chemist in Oregon) Henry had the waste wood turned into charcoal, which was then pressed into briquettes using corn starch and tar as a binder.
At first the briquettes were sold for use in meat & fish smokehouses and for home heating. But soon supply outstripped demand. Henry then created a brand new business of bagging the charcoal and selling it at Ford car dealerships for use during picnics or camping. The idea of family cookouts became so popular (in part because of the Vagabonds) that shortly Ford was selling “Picnic Kits” that contained grills and charcoal, and bore the slogan: “Enjoy a Modern Picnic -Sizzling Broiled Meats, Steaming Coffee, Toasted Sandwiches.”
Ford Motor Company Charcoal eventually was renamed Kingsford Charcoal, which is now America’s most popular maker of charcoal. The company uses a million tons of wood a year making it’s ever popular product.
Henry Ford not only invented one of the most popular cars ever sold, created one of America’s most successful businesses and invented the revolutionary assembly line, …he also changed American life and leisure by making possible and popularizing the great American barbecue.
—(It’s fascinating how even the most seemingly insignificant artifact can lead to such interesting history. Glad I looked at that bag of donated charcoal again. It turns out it had quite a story.)