The Untold Truth Of The George Foreman Grill

There may not be any official facts to back this up, but it would come as no surprise that if in 1999, there was a George Forman Grill in every college dorm room in the United States. To call the George Foreman Grill a successful product would be an understatement. Next to perhaps the discovery of propane, nothing has changed the grilling game quite like George Foreman's "lean, mean, fat grilling machine."

The electric grill has come in a wide range of varieties and it's so easy to use that you almost have to try to mess up a piece of grilled chicken. This isn't to say it's 100 percent idiot-proof (a guy in Florida did burn his house down by trying to bake cookies with it) but it's pretty close. 

The product isn't simply an easy way to grill indoors, but it really is a healthier way to cook, too. The grill became famous for its ability to drain grease and fat from cooking meat, but it also helps with reducing carcinogenic compounds that may be more present in meat grilled outdoors (via Livestrong). 

A boxing knockout might have led to the grill's success

Boxing heavyweight champ George Foreman didn't invent the grill — more on that in a second — but how he came to endorse it is a pretty wacky story. A Twitter user pressed Foreman for how his famous grill came to be and the boxer said it came to him as vision — while he was knocked out (via Food & Wine). "While I was KOd, I saw a giant piece of meat screaming Grill me; when I woke I said, 'gotta find a Grill.' Thus the George Foreman grill," Foreman wrote on Twitter. 

We're not saying that people can't have visions while unconscious that morph into million-dollar product endorsements, but wrestler Hulk Hogan has his doubts. According to the Hulkster, the grill was being shopped around to athletes and he missed the opportunity because he was picking his kids up from school. "I wasn't there to answer the call," Hogan said before adding, "George got the 'Lean, Mean Grilling Machine' and I got a blender that when you put double-AA batteries in, it would fart and then turn off."

George Foreman didn't invent his namesake grill

That's right, George Foreman didn't start dabbling as an inventor after retiring from the ring — he merely recognized a killer product. The inventor of the grill is actually a guy named Michael Boehm. The grill genius told Entrepreneur that the idea started with simple components and he refined it once he saw his idea worked. "In the case of the grill, I heated a cast-iron baking sheet, set it at an angle, and started cooking on it," Boehm explained. "Would the grease drain? Would the food cook? It did! I was very happily surprised that first time. As crude, as it was, it worked. It proved the concept."

Despite having a fantastic ice breaker for parties, nobody believed he invented it and Boehm said he used to carry around a copy of his patent as proof for any doubters of his invention. 

The grill did, however, make Foreman a lot of money

You don't have to invent something to get rich off it, you just have to know how to market it, and that's exactly what George Foreman did when he struck up a deal with the grill's maker, Salton appliances. Next to Michael Jordan's deal with Nike, George Foreman's deal with Salton is the most successful endorsement deal in sports marketing (via CNBC).

Attorney Sam Perlmutter, who represented both Foreman and Hogan, showed the grill to Foreman. The boxer seemed to contradict in 2010 what he later recalled on Twitter regarding his screaming meat vision and said he regarded it as a "toy" when he first saw it. It was only months later when his wife made him a burger with it that he reconsidered. 

Foreman was wise to reconsider because Salton had sold $200 million worth of grills within four years of its release. As for Foreman's cut, well, he was getting 45 percent of profits before Salton bought him out for an extra $137.5 million.