Grilling the Neighbors about Grilling (with Gas or Charcoal)

The July 4th weekend cookout is just around the corner and we are planning a barbeque with some friends at our house. That was not the original plan, but turns out we were not invited to the cookout around the corner.

“Are you cooking with gas or charcoal this weekend?” asked a buddy of mine. Apparently, people have strong preferences in this area, so I did a little checking. Here is a statistic reported by the people who make propane tanks:

69.3 percent of men vs. 67 percent of women prefer gas grills over charcoal grills.

What could possibly account for this vast taste variance of 2.3 percent between men and women? I have always accepted the statistical difference between the sexes when it came to the love of shoes, the comic genius of The Three Stooges, and professional wrestling. Those disparities were understandable, but the gap in the preference of gas vs. charcoal grills is a mystery.

Scientists at one of the many genome labs should take the time to see if there is, indeed, an actual gene to explain this. They have already found one each for selfishness, social skills, and altruism, but not a single study has been dedicated to the charcoal/gas grills discrepancy. You laugh (I hope), but these are your tax dollars squandered by the government—your money up in smoke, especially if you prefer charcoal.

It’s times like this that I lament the death of Einstein. Oh, the hours he wasted with electrons and gravity, time and space. That all seems so trivial now, relatively speaking.

I decided to do some research on my own block to see if the results meshed with the typical American neighborhood. I knocked on the first door. “Hi, Mark, I’m just taking a little survey. Do you prefer a charcoal or a gas grill?”

“Well, that’s kind of a touchy question in this house. I prefer gas, but Judy likes coals. I’d rather not go on the record with this. Our kids are still in school and we belong to a very conservative church. Instead, it would be safer to tell you about our sex lives or how much debt we are in

I tried one more house. “Norman, I just dropped over to find out whether it makes any difference to you whether you fire up your grill with gas or charcoal.”

“It mattered a lot to the first Mrs. Collingwood; that’s why there’s a second Mrs. Collingwood. Things were fine for several years, but then my new wife read something in Prevention magazine and started asking me a lot of health and safety questions about my chosen cooking method. I hate being grilled about grilling, so I decided to purchase my wife a brand new Weber that meets her new barbequing preference. It was cheaper than a third Mrs. Collingwood.

One final thing: According to most propane manufacturers, 36 percent of grillers don’t know they’re out of propane gas until they actually are.

Sorry, I don’t have a clever ending to this column, but it doesn’t really matter. Only 26 percent of my readers know that my last line is supposed to be funny. That’s because 74 percent don’t get that far.

– Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Times of Noblesville. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@