Today’s Big Green Egg is a modern-day evolution of the ancient clay cookers known to the world as a Kamado (a generic term for this style of clay cooker). Its design is modeled on the clay cooking vessels first seen thousands of years ago during the Chinese Qin Dynasty and then used by the Japanese beginning in the 3rd century. The name “kamado” is the Japanese word for “stove” or “cooking range”.
These knee-high kamado cookers were fueled by wood or natural charcoal (just like the Big Green Egg is today), and pots were hung inside them for cooking rice. Eventually a slatted cooking grid was fitted inside for grilling and roasting meats, and by the 1600s they were raised off the floor and placed on a platform – a position which undoubtedly was much easier on the cook’s back!
Popularity began to spread as U.S. servicemen discovered this type of cooker during World War II and shipped them home after the war. The domed kamado style grills were an exciting alternative to the metal charcoal or gas grills of the day, and people became enamored with the added flavor and juiciness this “newly discovered” style of cooking gave to foods.
The original Big Green Egg store in Atlanta sold a simple clay cooker based on the same design and materials that had been used thousands of years ago. Despite the great results they produced, these original cookers were fragile and not durable after exposure to the elements.
Engineers incorporated new types of ceramics, based on materials initially developed by NASA for the space program, and worked tirelessly to find ways to improve the design. The result was a far superior ceramic kamado cooker that is stronger, more durable and provides better heat insulation than anything else on the market, a distinction the Big Green Egg is known for today.