Weber One-Touch Charcoal Kettle Grill
This is an American icon for a reason.
It's difficult to think of an object more distinctively American than a Weber kettle grill. If there's ever a consumer product deemed worthy to appear on the currency that buys it, it's a fair bet that the classic Weber will box out the Fender Stratocaster, Ford Mustang, and Louisville Slugger. With its iconic shape, history, and ubiquity in garages across America—it's priced for the people between $99 and $149—the Weber One-Touch charcoal grills continue to perform just as they did back in the '50s when they were invented. Because they got it right the first time.
Design, Features, & Usability
You know the grill.
You're probably already familiar with the Weber kettle grill's classic design and features—or lack thereof. The simplicity of the grill might be elegant to some, but the lack of storage or hooks can be annoying—hanging the grill tools on the handle does not work that well. The classic One-Touch Silver design does have a few usability issues, which are either "quirks" or "difficulties" depending on your mood. While eponymous "One Touch" system—a handle controls three arms that sweep ash out holes in the bottom—does make it easy to get the coals into the ash pan, it's almost impossible empty the shallow pan without spilling or having a Big Lebowski funeral situation. Maneuvering the grill on its ludicrous wheels and one proper handle is the other little quirk—though rolling it while holding the lid handle helps a bit.
The One-Touch Gold—a step up from the silver—addresses its shortcomings by adding a few things that might make it worth the extra $50. Instead of catching ashes in an open shallow plate, the Gold uses a closed cylinder that's a bit more user friendly. Unlike the Silver, the Gold has two handles, which allow users to actually get a good grip on the hot grill if it needs to be moved—and the second handle comes with tool hooks. The Gold's improvements extend past fixing the Silver's quirks—the Gold adds a thermometer to metal lid.
In its simplicity, the One-Touch only has one explicit means of control—a four-holed vent on the lid to keep things smokey. But as every charcoal griller knows, the maestro exercises control by shuffling the coals around and knowing when—and how much—to cover with the lid. More advanced users can play around with indirect heat (barbecuing) by corralling the coals opposite the food, or place a pan of water on top of the coals to keep things moist.
The One-Touch isn't ubiquitous by accident.
It's no accident that this grill has stayed as popular as Elvis, since Elvis. Obviously, there isn't much to a Weber kettle—it's little more than a small fire pit—so the user is ultimately responsible for performance. But since it's the simplest and most ancient way to cook, it's not exactly difficult. The charcoal factor proves to be both the advantage and disadvantage. Clearly charcoal preheat times aren't good compared to many gas grills, but the lack of burners makes it possible to arrange the coals however you want, either providing uniform temperatures across the grilling surface, or a hot spot on one side.
If it was good enough for your grandfather...
Weber got it right back in the '50s with this affordable, simple, and versatile grill, making it a great choice for anyone who wants that charcoal taste (accept no substitutions, some maintain). Though the One-Touch Silver has a few usability quirks (only one handle, annoying ashtray, no tool hooks), we don't think most people will really mind, though the One-Touch Gold will iron out those wrinkles for $50 more. Either way, the grill and its charcoals yield very uniform heat without hotspots—a benefit of not having burners. When I was a kid, I used to complain about our old charcoal grill's slow heat up and ask my dad why he didn't want to switch to gas so we wouldn't have to wait. "Y'know what," he said as I helped him pour the coals into the chimney starter, "I don't mind waiting."
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