My father picked one of these grills up and became absolutely fanatic about it. So fanatic, in fact, that it was the Christmas present he sent this past year. Now, technically, the name for the series of products is George Foreman's Mean, Lean, Fat Reducing Grilling Machine. This despite a study that claimed that the grill did not actually reduce fat. They range from freestanding outdoor versions to versions that can barely fit two hamburgers. Almost all of them are electric (jarsyl informs me that he has access to a propane version); some of them have added gizmos like bun warmers. (No, not that kind of buns.)

The grill is nicely effective, particularly compared to things like pan frying a steak. The important thing is to make sure it has had time to heat up fully! While the light on the unit supposedly goes out when it's ready, I often give it a little longer, which seems to alleviate some of the trouble. I've also found it does better with marinaded meats and meats chopped up into small pieces, especially if you cover the entire grilling surface. A word to the wise: salmon steaks cooked on this grill taste good, but your next meal cooked on it will likely taste of salmon too, no matter how hard you try to clean it. Also, jarsyl comments that BBQ sauces that normally drip down in a grill simply collect on the grill surface and char in a Foreman.

Cleaning the grill, we've found, is easiest if you place the grill to the side of your kitchen sink such that it would drain into the sink. Then take a teflon-safe scrubber and just scrub into the sink, wetting regularly with water. Some dish soap might be useful, but given that most of the remnants will be charred rather than greasy, is not the main tool for the job. (A garbage disposal is nice but unlikely to be necessary.)

The countertop-sized Foreman Grills can substitute for a full-size grill if you don't have space, particularly in an apartment without a balcony or porch. Even so, that makes it one more thing to fit in the kitchen. If you like grilled food, though, it might be a good choice for you.

Properly called the George Foreman Lean, Mean, fat-reducing Grilling Machine, the original Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine made its debut in 1994 at the Gourmet Products Show. The machine had not been endorsed by Foreman at that point, so that was the name at the time. While at the show, Mike Srednick, who was aware of Foreman's interest in getting a bigger cut of the endorsement pie, saw the product on display. The grill had been developed by an Asian manufacturer and brought to Salton, a relatively small appliance maker. Srednick spoke to company CEO Leon Dreimann. Dreimann was so convinced that the product was a complete non-starter that he put Srednick directly in contact with the manufacturer. Srednick contacted Foreman through an attorney, Sam Perlmutter, who got the grill to Foreman.

The grill sat for a few months, and Foreman had not touched it. Finally, his wife cooked a hamburger (one of his favorite foods) on it. Foreman liked it and wanted to go ahead with a deal. Perlmutter, realizing that he would need someone with experience manufacturing appliances, went to Salton to talk turkey. They settled on an extraordinary agreement: After expenses, 40% of profits went to Salton, 45% would go to Foreman, and 15% would be split between Perlmutter and Srednick. Foreman got nothing up front, but could make out big if the product was profitable.

The product was not an immediate success. The breakthrough was a result of Foreman appearing on QVC to hawk his grill. During the course of showing off the grill, George was idle while the QVC people were talking, so, he made himself a burger and ate it. It was perhaps the best hamburger he ever ate, if the results of that bite are considered. The audience loved that he really seemed to like his own product and the phone lines lit up. Salton sold literally millions of these things. The deal was renegotiated a few years later so Salton could create an entire line of George Foreman products. Salton paid Foreman nearly 140 million dollars over 5 years to gain the right to use his name on whatever products it wished. To show the impact Foreman made on the company, consider that, in 1987, a few years earlier, the company had only 8 million dollars in total sales.

The rest, as they say, is history. Foreman continues to endorse products for Salton, and they get his approval before putting his name on any product, a step they are not contractually required to take, but do so out of respect and appreciation. Practically all of my friends have one of these, and I must testify to the value you get when you get one of these.


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