The venerable Lodge Sportsman Grill (LSG) has been around for decades in the same basic form but has had several manufacturers over the years.
It’s legacy and patents date back to the 1930s and 1940s. It is interesting to note that the first design of this hibachi cast iron grill was in fact not intended for cooking at all, but was in fact designed to heat up old school solid cast iron clothes irons called “sad irons” manufactured by Birmingham Stove & Range (BSR).
It was a smart BSR salesman in Lousiana who realized that it could not only heat up cast iron heaters but could also be used to heat up oil for frying fish. Once this new use was realized it took hold as a cooking implement and its use as a press iron heating device was forgotten with the advent of electric clothes ironing.
Even though there have been minor changes made to the design over the many decades, the patent and overall function has not changed. This is further evidence of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Probably the most significant change was the improvement of the use of a tripod leg design instead of 4 legs to support the grill. Tripod supports are much better at finding level and stable position on outdoor uneven surfaces than a 4 legged design.
It is also interesting to note that the casting and quality has actually improved over the decades with Lodge taking over the permit and manufacturing of this cast iron grill. As seen in the video above the casting marks and molding process is much improved with the use of modern casting technology. That is something not actually found to often now-a-days.
Arguably, the Lodge Sportsman’s Grill is the final reputable survivor of past iterations that were made by other large cast iron foundries such as BSR (Birmingham Stove & Range) out of Atlanta, GA.
Almost all of the other sportsman grill manufacturers have gone by the wayside over the past few decades along with the cast iron manufacturing base in North America.
Further articles will address fire management and how to properly maintain your temperature, which is where the skills get applied in this style of cooking.
Of course, the older iterations and vintage cast iron hibachi grills are available out there for purchase. However, those older models are usually available as “collectors items” and are priced accordingly. If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon what appears to be a rust piece of cast iron that has an older model of the sportsman’s grill you should snatch it up and do a little research in how to restore the grill to its fresh off the foundry casting floor days.
The BSR Sportsman Grill fish fryer original patent was issued to Atlanta Stove Works in 1941.
The Lodge Sportsman Grill is the king of the backyard cast iron hibachi grill barbecue implements. The grill is very affordable and brings with it the sturdiness and longevity that comes with solid cast iron construction.
There are no cheap metal, wood handles or thin parts to break or degrade over time. If properly cared for, as described in our Maintenance section of this page, you will have a grilling implement that can be passed down through the generations.
I certainly do look forward to my kids saying to their kids one day, “I remember my Dad cooking burgers on this grill for me, and now I’m cooking them for you.” It gives me warm feelings thinking of the memories being created around this king of the hibachi grills.