The year was 1994. Movies like Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump played to huge audiences. Bill Clinton sat in the White House. Beavis & Butt-Head aired on MTV.
And gas grilling took off – on the back of a rhino.
After World War II, Americans moved from farms and cities to the suburbs and discovered the backyard. The cookout became synonymous with summer, and charcoal grills were at the epicenter of this growth in outdoor living.
As America fell in love with grilling, new products hit stores. Among them were gas grills, which made grilling easier and more convenient than messy, time-consuming charcoal.
Getting propane was the problem. It just wasn’t widely available, and buying propane was a chore that for some felt a little unsafe. Then a man named Billy Prim saw a propane tank exchange business overseas. In 1994, he started an exchange company and called it Blue Rhino, after the tough, unique animal and the color of a propane flame.
Local, regional, and national retailers jumped on board. Suddenly, it was easy to find propane. It was a trusted, branded product at retail stores. As the decade passed, ownership of gas grills nearly doubled. That was no coincidence because propane tank exchange availability soared too.
Twenty-five years later, Blue Rhino, a proud brand of Ferrellgas, still leads the propane exchange industry with over 54,000 retail locations nationwide. More Americans know Blue Rhino than any other propane exchange brand. And gas grills are still popular: there are more gas grills sold every year than any other type of grill, including charcoal.
It’s no wonder that the National Museum of American History includes the backyard cookout in an exhibit called “Food: Transforming the American Table,” that is on display in Washington, D.C. For more about this exhibit, click here.
Thanks to a rhino. Here’s to twenty-five years of helping America discover the joys of the backyard!