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.