Grilling chicken wings on barbecue grill

Chicken wings on a grill (© Sławomir Fajer -

NEW YORK — The nation’s indoor dining rooms may be open again, but new research suggests that Americans still prefer for their family reunions to take place around the backyard grill. In a recent survey of 2,006 respondents, more than half (51%) picked outdoor barbecues as an ideal venue for socializing this summer.

Meanwhile, only 38 percent say the same of restaurants and even fewer (34%) are choosing their own dining room table. Altogether, 47 percent of respondents are using cookouts to catch up on news from friends and family — agreeing that the grill is the non-work equivalent of the office water cooler.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bush’s Beans, the survey also finds that 72 percent have created lasting memories around the grill in the past. Moreover, 42 percent want to create even more post-pandemic memories, by attending more barbecues than they usually would this summer.

Suns out, buns out

GrillingOf course, a barbecue isn’t a success without the right food, which may be why 23 percent of respondents insist on bringing their signature dish every time they’re invited to one. That doesn’t mean the classics get ignored, though, with burgers (77%), hot dogs (72%), and baked beans (47%) among the list of must-have dishes at a cookout.

This summer has been a time for families and friends to come back together,” says Penny Caudill, Bush’s Baked Beans brand manager, in a statement. “And the grill remains a place where we can all get together and enjoy our favorite foods that make summer beautiful, from burgers to hot dogs to baked beans.”

Spice is also a hot topic around the grill, with 79 percent saying they like spicy barbecue foods, whether added before, during, or after cooking. Some people love spice so much, they can’t bear to be without it; 28 percent of respondents actually carry a bottle of hot sauce with them at all times, just in case.

GrillingWhen things get too hot, people still reach for milk (34%) or water (31%) more than they do bread, alcohol, soda, or other items as spice neutralizers.

Spice up your life

Types of spice are important too, with jalapeño being the favorite of three in 10 respondents, compared to just 12 percent who like to get their heat from cayenne. Those types of spice are most likely to be a flavor in classic barbecue dishes like chicken wings (45%), burgers (35%), pulled pork sandwiches (27%), and baked beans (22%).

“It’s no secret that a classic barbecue dish can be elevated with the right spice, and this survey shows that an unexpected pop of jalapeño heat is the perfect way to add flair to your favorite summer dishes. That’s why Bush’s created new Sweet Heat Baked Beans as an easy, delicious option for adding some extra heat to your favorite grilling side dish,” Caudill adds.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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