Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Origin of the Charcoal Briquette

"Though many claim that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were the original inventors of the charcoal briquette, a closer look into the United States patent library reveals the original inventor was Ellsworth B.A. Zwoyer. At the time he designed and patented the original briquette (1897), he was living in Reading, PA, and later moved to Perth Amboy, NJ.

After World War I, Zwoyer and his son Paul started the Zwoyer Fuel Company, which built charcoal briquette manufacturing plants in Buffalo, NY, and Fall River, MA. In 1927 he acquired two more briquette patents for a “Briquetting Method” and a “Method of Carbonizing Fuel Briquettes.” The Great Depression took its toll on Zwoyer's company and he moved his family to Illinois.

It remains a mystery how Edison and Ford came up with the idea to make their charcoal briquettes. Zwoyer was reportedly an acquaintance, if not a friend, of Edison and Ford, and we know that Edison and Ford used left-over sawdust and glue from Ford's automobile assembly lines to make the briquettes." 1
1 - Information gathered from an article published on THE SUSTAINABLE TABLE Website http://www.sustainabletable.org/features/articles/summergrilling/charcoal.html
- by Chris Hunt with contributions from Jill Peterson and Diane Hatz